- Google CEO Sundar Pichai apologized to the tech company's LGBTQ employees after backlash over YouTube's decision that rhetoric deemed homophobic on conservative pundit Steven Crowder's YouTube channel didn't violate the platform's policies, The Verge reported. Pichai and other Google executives met with LGBTQ community groups Tuesday to discuss what The Verge said one employee described as "the pattern of crises" affecting the LGBTQ community and the need for discussions with LGBTQ groups on policy decisions. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized to LGBTQ workers Monday, too, but stood by the decision. Google bought YouTube in 2006.
- Pichai's apology was made public Wednesday via an email shared with The Verge. It said, in part: "It was important for me to hear directly from LGBTQ+ Googlers to better understand the full range of experiences. One thing that came through very clearly is the LGBTQ+ community has felt a lot of pain and frustration over recent events. With respect to YouTube, Susan and the team are already taking a hard look at the harassment policies and will do this in consultation with many groups, including people who have themselves experienced harassment. We're also thinking through ways to engage more with our LGBTQ+ community at important moments and get input from our [employee resource group] leads and representatives."
- Google workers had previously expressed frustration to The Verge. "[Executives] ignore us completely unless there is extreme unrest," one said. "We can't trust them anymore to listen in good faith."
The Crowder controversy is just the latest in a series of employee complaints about Google practices. Among the more notable was the global walkout in November led by employees protesting the tech giant's handling of sexual harassment claims. Workers also have voiced concern about the company's treatment of part-time workers, its involvement in developing drone warfare technology with the Pentagon, pay inequality and more recently, retaliation against two employee activists.
While the list of grievances is long, the company's responses have been quick and decisive. In April, Google rolled out a website for employee complaints and said another was planned for temporary workers this month. The company said it would expand its Support Person Program, which lets workers bring a colleague to sexual harassment and discrimination investigations and launched an Investigations Care Program to provide employees with better care during and after an investigation.
Organizations might regularly review their policies on a range of issues and quickly update those that need revising in an effort to maintain an engaged, productive workforce. Many of Google's policy changes address sexual misconduct, but HR also can ensure that policies outline how to conduct good-faith investigations and bring those investigations to a close. How Google works to resolve the most recent upset and earn the trust of LBGTQ workers bears watching.