- Blind, the community app for the workplace, asked tech workers if their companies gave generous severance packages to employees accused of sexual misconduct — and one-third of tech workers said yes. Blind broke down the survey results by company, and found that the response for nearly 70% of employees at Google was 'true,' the highest of any company with at least 50 unique employee answers in the poll.
- The poll also asked generally whether their companies should end arbitration agreements in settling employment disputes. Seventy-one percent overall said "yes." However, 78% of Google employees answered "yes," the second largest response to the question among companies with at least 50 workers.
- The issues at Google are particularly public after a walkout of Google employees earlier this month over the apparent mishandling of sexual harassment allegations lodged against senior executives and the multimillion dollar severance packages they quietly received, as revealed in a New York Times exposé. Among the employees' top demands was an end to forced arbitration in discrimination and harassment cases. Following the walkout, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company would end forced arbitration in sexual assault and harassment cases.
Although the Blind survey focused on employees' perception and knowledge of their companies' forced arbitration agreements and handling of sexual misconduct allegations, employers can't dismiss their reactions to these issues. Companies that are perceived as acting unethically set a negative tone in the workplace, even potentially stifling attempts by employees to bring issues to light before they set off larger issues for the company.
Google, for example, listened to its workers' very vocal complaints on a number of workplace issues and changed its policies on arbitration relating to sexual misconduct and disability accommodation. To prevent necessitating a public walk-out, however, companies may need to improve their feedback processes and ensure all complaints are investigated promptly, with notice given to all appropriate parties as to the status of those investigations. Managers may also need to be trained to address potential concerns in an appropriate manner.
Employers also must think of how their brand and online ratings are affected by their handling of hot-button issues like sexual misconduct, discrimination and disability. The result of a Monster survey released in September found that 38% of job seekers said they would apply only to companies with a three-star or better rating, and that nearly a third would never seek a job with a poorly rated company. Ratings are about a company's internal brand as well as external perceptions. Maintaining a positive brand is crucial to staying competitive in an employee-driven labor market.