The Google walkout over sexual harassment policy is forcing discussions at companies across Silicon Valley. Away from Alphabet headquarters, Facebook is following Google's lead and changing its sexual harassment policy to remove a clause forcing claims to be settled in private arbitration.
Facebook announced the move internally on Nov. 9, according to the Wall Street Journal. The news comes after Google made the same change to their own sexual harassment policy after protesting staff members demanded it.
"Today, we are publishing our updated Workplace Relationships policy and amending our arbitration agreements to make arbitration a choice rather than a requirement in sexual harassment claims,” Facebook Corporate Media Relations Director Anthony Harrison revealed in a statement to The Verge. “Sexual harassment is something that we take very seriously, and there is no place for it at Facebook.”
Facebook's VP of People Lori Goler told WSJ that the decision to amend their policy was "part of taking the next step” in a moment she described as "pivotal" for the tech industry.
The move is a turnaround from where Facebook stood just a few months ago. When discussing their private arbitration policy with HuffPost, company representatives called forced arbitration “official and appropriate.”
The worldwide Google protests were sparked by the news that the company gave a $90 million to Android software developer Andy Rubin after he was accused of sexual misconduct. The employees shared a list of six demands, including an end to forced arbitration.
While Google addressed some of these demands, organizers claim that they didn't go far enough in their response to the walkout. Google promised more transparency in the way that they handle misconduct allegations, but organizers noted that they ignored demands to give more power to the company's chief diversity officer and allow more employee representation on the board of directors.
"Sexual harassment is the symptom, not the cause. If we want to end sexual harassment in the workplace, we must fix these structural imbalances of power," the protesters stated. Their negotiations with Google are ongoing.