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Google CEO: Apology for harassment "wasn't enough"

Women still face sexual harassment at work

Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday said the search engine's apology for its handling of sexual harassment claims didn't go far enough, and that the company will take a "harder line," according to an internal email from Pichai that was obtained by Axios. 

The email comes as some workers are planning a "walk out" on Thursday to protest the company's handling of sexual misconduct allegations. Pichai wrote in the email that he's supportive of the walk out: "[Google executives] will make sure managers are aware of the activities planned for Thursday and that you have the support you need," he noted. 

Pichai's pledge to take a stronger stance comes after Google last week revealed it had fired 48 employees for sexual harassment during the past two years and sent them away without severance packages. The disclosure was a direct response to a New York Times report that the company had dismissed the executive in charge of its Android software for sexual misconduct in 2014 and paid him handsomely to leave.

"One thing that's become clear to me is that our apology ... didn't come through, and it wasn't enough. We hear you," Pichai wrote in the email. "As CEO, it's been personally important to me that we take a much harder line on inappropriate behavior. We have taken many steps to do so, and know our work is still not done."

Accusations of sexual harassment and gender bias has roiled Silicon Valley companies including Uber and Google. Some experts point to the "bro" culture of the tech sector as feeding the problem, given that the tech firms tend to employ far more men than women. 

To be sure, sexual harassment can occur in any industry or company. But industries that are male-dominated -- such as technology and computer engineering -- and companies where both upper- and middle-management ranks are filled by men are more likely to be places where sexual harassment occurs, researchers have found

In its 2018 diversity report, Google said almost 7 out of 10 employees are men. While more than 30 percent of its staff are women, they represent a smaller share of managers, at 25.5 percent. 

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