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A note to our employees (www.blog.google)
243 points by minimaxir 5 days ago | hide | past | web | 396 comments | favorite





One of the more interesting pieces is buried in the linked PDF:

"Excessive alcohol: Harassment is never acceptable and alcohol is never an excuse. But one of the most common factors among the harassment complaints made today at Google is that the perpetrator had been drinking (~20% of cases). Our policy is clear: Excessive consumption of alcohol is not permitted when you are at work, performing Google business, or attending a Google-related event, whether onsite or offsite. Going forward, all leaders at the company - Directors, VPs and SVPs - will be expected to create teams, events, offsites and environments in which excessive alcohol consumption is strongly discouraged. For example, many teams have already put two-drink limits in place for events. Others use drink ticket systems. The onus will be on leaders to take appropriate steps to restrict any excessive consumption among their teams, and we will impose more onerous actions if problems persist."

As someone who's been exposed to heavy drinking culture in Silicon Valley, this is a huge step in the right direction. I hope more companies and tech events adopt this.


Why not just ban alcohol at work? Why can't work be work, and social stuff can happen outside of it?

I know it sounds a bit extreme. But, after reading "It doesn't have to be crazy it work," I feel like companies use alcohol to bribe employees to stay at the office after-hours.

A midground would be drinking only with sit-down food. Nobody is doing shots while having dinner. Another idea could be making company social functions a lunch activity, rather than a dinner one.


Feel free to ban anything you want at work. And the people who work there will select for if they want to be a part of it by becoming or remaining employees. (There are, of course, things that are illegal to ban)

I personally want to work somewhere who values me as a responsible human being, and expects me to behave like one. The more a workplace feels like they have to micromanage their employees like children, the more I would expect their workplace to be filled with people who act like children. And I personally wouldn’t want to work somewhere like that.

Hire intelligent, respectful, ethical, empathetic, mature adults to do interesting work. Fire the ones who don’t live up to it.

I expect workplace requirements to be spelled out in terms of expected behavior, expected performance, expected results. Define the outputs.

And take responsibility up the chain. IMO the right policy is not to ban alcohol entirely. Rather, if an employee behaves inappropriately the employee is responsible, but if the manager created the environment which lead to the behavior (whether that be approving the purchase of a keg and cheering for a keg stand, or not stopping that engineer from being verbally abusive at the daily stand ups) the manager is also held to account.


> The more a workplace feels like they have to micromanage their employees like children, the more I would expect their workplace to be filled with people who act like children.

This is exactly what I always thought until I ended up working at a place that did not ban anything. I had no idea how far some will take this freedom, until I saw it, and then I thought: Wish this place banned a few things.


Sounds like they should've banned a few people, not a few things.

"(~20% of cases)"

Apparently, many of the people Google is hiring are not intelligent, respectful, ethical, empathetic, or mature. The problem is, once you've hired them, firing them requires investigations, proofs, lawsuits, internet drama, and so forth. I'd imagine going after managers would be even more problematic.

I'd just as soon work for a place that bans alcohol, including at the unofficial, optional-mandatory social functions. In fact, that pretty well describes every place I've worked.


20% of cases where the perp had been drinking. It doesn't necessarily mean they were drinking to excess. Someone who wants to harass another employee doesn't need an excessive amount of alcohol to do so.

It seems almost taboo to say this in 2018 but in my experience alcohol, when used by intelligent, respectful, mature adults facilitates healthy bonds that would not be there otherwise and persist long after the effects of the alcohol have worn off.


Is that true in california? I thought it was always at-will and that employers do not need to provide any reasoning.

There are exceptions to at-will employment public policy.

https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2001/01/art1full.pdf (BLS PDF, The employment-at-will doctrine: three major exceptions)


The positive aspect of banning alcohol consumption is that it's an objective measure. If somebody is a drunken lout pawing his employees, save the victim more exposure by drumming him out for the alcohol.

With the possible exception of salespeople entertaining clients, there's no need to drink on duty, and if you do, there is a consequence.


You don't need to ban alcohol in order to punish someone for being visibly drunken or pawing at employees.

If you allow drinking at work, what BAC is ok?

What exactly is the justification for endorsing drinking at work?


I don't think the parent comment is at all disagreeing with the existence of any utility in "banning alcohol" here.

The gist of what the parent comment is saying, is that, if you have a policy in place to "compensate" for a certain "negative trait," what you are actually doing is inviting _more_ of that trait, because you are signaling that your company will put effort in to help deal with that, which means that someone who needs help monitoring their alcohol consumption would be _more likely_ to work for you, thus accomplishing essentially the opposite of what you wanted.

Mature adults who do _not_ need someone else to monitor their alcohol consumption are far more likely to inherently present with the responsible, adult behaviors that you desire. But, a mature adult who can already sufficiently moderate their own alcohol consumption is going to be _less likely_ to want to work at a place where said consumption is heavily, outwardly regulated/enforced, because why would they want to be constantly told something that they have already fully incorporated into their mature, adult habits and personality?


Mature adults also don’t sexually harass their colleagues.

My priority is to have swift, clear consequences for harassment. If you are drinking at work and in your buzz behave inappropriately, I want you walked out of the building for the alcohol and spare the victim from the more harm.

You don’t need to infantalize folks. It’s really simple: if you want to go get drinks, there’s a bar down the road.


"Mature adults who do _not_ need someone else to monitor their alcohol consumption are far more likely to inherently present with the responsible, adult behaviors that you desire."

That doesn't seem to describe Google's employees. (Or anyone under the age of 30, for that matter, says the little tiny cynic who lives on my shoulder.)


Can we ban nerf guns and adult slides? Good grief, much of Silicon Valley feels like a kindergarten.

why does it have to be a ban? isn't it satisfying enough just to look down at your inferiors and bask in how mature you are?

> I personally want to work somewhere who values me as a responsible human being, and expects me to behave like one.

Responsible human beings don't drink alcohol in the workplace. If a person is drawing a salary, they should be presenting to work fit & as prepared as possible to do it. There is no good reason for employees to be drinking at or prior to work. Unless, I suppose, there is some well-replicated study showing that alcohol in low doses increases cognitive function despite all my expectations.

Management doesn't have a magic crystal ball to tell truth from falsehood and fact from hearsay - and because of that uncertainty firing people is a far last resort for creating a safe and welcoming workspace. Banning alcohol at work is both prudent and reasonable.


You have a very narrow view of "the workplace".

I used to work for a large well respected software company. On Fridays, after work, there was a subsidized bar where we could have a beer or two and discuss work or non-work things in a more relaxed atmosphere. Would you ban that?

If I go to a conference and we have an official conference social meet-up should I be prohibited from consuming alcohol?

I have my own straw man. You say:

> they should be presenting to work fit & as prepared as possible to do it

I propose that we ban coffee in the workplace because we should all be at 100% all the time and coffee obviously shows you aren't turning up ready to work.


> You have a very narrow view of "the workplace".

On the contrary, I have a very broad view of the workplace. Yes to all your questions. I don't work in tech, and there are no subsidised bars or alcohol at conferences. We got subsidised gym memberships and tea at the conferences I'm used to. If you want to drink, your money, your time, after work. If you want to get tipsy with colleagues in your own time, it is not in any way endorsed by the company.

My personal guess is the tech industry _will_ eventually ban alcohol at all such things as the link between drinking, uninhibited men and sexual harassment is bought up again and again. The bad apples will spoil the whole barrel.

> I propose that we ban coffee in the workplace because we should all be at 100% all the time and coffee obviously shows you aren't turning up ready to work.

Well, I don't agree with you. But if you have evidence, sure. My understanding is coffee is a mild stimulant, so it should be linked to a very mild improvement in work performance - so I doubt you have evidence.

People do turn up to work unprepared. We can't really stop that - maybe they just get a bad nights sleep. But alcohol is going to have a pretty strictly negative effect, so employees shouldn't be drinking it in company hours or before work.


I'm not a coding robot that needs to be min/maxed for my productivity output all day at work. I'm certainly not even programming all day at work.

So I would not want to work where you're in charge where everything I may want to do (or consume) is judged on its productivity basis.

You probably have habits that sacrifice your work performance. There's a good chance, at the very least, you weigh more than you should, work out less than you should, and eat fewer vegetables than you should. You might even have children or plan to have them one day. Yikes!

And all of these cost you much more than the morale boosting beer I get to share with my team as is tradition towards the end of a Friday.


Having a drink in the workplace aftera day of hard work works great for morale.

> Having a drink in the workplace aftera day of hard work works great for morale.

So do many other things. If the only thing that keeps morale acceptable is providing alcohol, then you have a problem either with the people you hire, the work you make them do, or the amount of resources you're willing to expend on morale.


What about at lunch? Sometimes, I go out to lunch and want a martini or two...

> alcohol in low doses increases cognitive function

https://xkcd.com/323/


A BAC of .13 is not a low dose of alcohol. It means you are pretty heavily intoxicated.

problem solved

Why not NOT ban alcohol at work, and when an employee fucks up, just fire him ?

Is that really not a solution here ?

at the end of the day, people should be accountable for their own actions, and i should not be punished if i want to have a beer after working hours with colleagues because a tiny minority of people at my company cant drinking responsibly


> ...when an employee fucks up, just fire him ? > Is that really not a solution here ?

Not for the victim.


I agree, though I think a warning for a first offense is more reasonable. It seems like every company would rather set policy based on the worst possible interpretation rather than leaving things a little looser and dealing with problems/oversteppers directly.

I don't know. It seems like either you're responsible for your behavior, or you are not. Having a first-offense warning just shows that the company isn't really serious about dealing with the problem.

Zero Tolerance Policies, generally also mean Zero Thinking Policies.

The punishment should fit the crime, and most situations are warrant only a warning or a minor punishment - and if behavior improves, all is well.


What % of incidents were first offenses? Unless it's a really low number, firing after first offense won't reduce the total number of incidents enough.

I disagree. You're assuming that only direct punishment can affect behavior, when the _threat_ of punishment after first offense can also affect behavior.

As a ridiculous hyperbole: assume a life in prison minimum sentence is established for speeding, on the first offense, and that it's actually enforced. I guarantee you that very quickly we'd have everyone driving under the posted speed limit at all times.


You're assuming offenders anticipate the bad things they do drunk and thus can be deterred.

Counterpoint to your ridiculous hyperbole: Why isn't the murder rate near zero in states with the death penalty?

Isn't that backwards? If most offenses are first offenses, then firing after a first offense won't help much. But if most offense are repeat, firing after the first offense would have prevented the repeat, right?

What you're saying and what I said are consistent, not backwards.

"If most offenses are first offenses" satisfies the predicate "Unless [% of first offenses] is a really low number"

The consequent "firing after a first offense won't help much" is consistent with "firing after first offense won't reduce the total number of incidents enough."


So many easy solutions are to just ban the thing, and not investigate/legislate the actual reason for doing the thing.

But quick change is often more desirable than real change.


I know it sounds a bit extreme.

Not extreme at all. Except for salespeople having business lunches, in the United States, drinking on company time is pretty much verboten outside of the tech bubble.


in the United States, drinking on company time is pretty much verboten outside of the tech bubble.

I don't think this is true, especially for company parties. I have also heard of people in other industries drinking in the office, usually these were smaller companies, or the people doing the drinking were upper management.


WeWork banned meat at company events or on company expense accounts [1]. Would it be that hard to do something similar for alcohol? Then, bringing it back to Google, if people misbehave after having alcohol - then they bought the drinks, and came to a company event while intoxicated.

When I was at OpenDNS, @davidu used to say something along the lines of, "When you try to host a big company party with over 100 people, you expect to have to fire somebody for their behavior there. Don't be that person." Maybe the costs don't outweigh the benefits of work parties.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/13/wework-m...


Wow, WeWork won't even allow employees to expense meals that have meat in them?! That's ridiculous. The environmental situation with beef is a little more complex than "less beef eaten -> fewer cows -> less methane -> less climate change."

What's even more ridiculous is that beef is the costly meat from an environmental perspective, but they've also banned poultry and all other types of meat. I can understand not serving meat, but not allowing employees to expense meals involving meat would make me reconsider working there - especially because of the heavy handed way they did it.


> The environmental situation with beef is a little more complex than "less beef eaten -> fewer cows -> less methane -> less climate change."

I'm not aware of this, and would be interested in knowing more; as I understand currently, that flow really does apply.


Welcome to world of political correctness. Also is minority of employees claim anyone eating meat hurt their feelings companies could reasonably ban meat in office meals claiming it is creating non-welcoming workplace.

It's not just an environmental issue. It's an ethical issue.

Maybe some companies out there also banned slave ownership across the board. Probably seemed unfair, too. Did they not realize how useful slaves are?

Now, this seems like a silly comparison because we're all so used to eating meat for every meal, but does familiarity trump ethical concerns?


Absurd. I'd never work at such a company, in part due to the type of people that kind of policy would attract. If this rule was enacted and I was already an employee, I'd spend the money to bring large meat spreads to all of the events.

Why would that be a reasonable response to this policy? It largely seems childish, and reactionary, in the face of a policy that is (clearly!) intended to improve the world.

Perhaps WeWork knew what they were doing.

They are probably happy you wouldn't have joined then. Win-win.

> I'd never work at such a company, in part due to the type of people that kind of policy would attract.

I think you may be overestimating the volume of job applicants that pay attention to such policies, and/or their qualifications.

I am referring only to the prohibition on expensing certain types of meals, not non-meat food/environments in general.


It isn't in the Midwest, although vary by company but It tends to be a "don't abuse it, use your judgement". Sometimes that can be a beer in the middle of the day. Sometimes it's happy hour on the clock on Fridays.

>Why not just ban alcohol at work? Why can't work be work, and social stuff can happen outside of it?

I see this sentiment a lot (especially on HN!) and I share it. I usually skip team dinners when I can. But there's no accounting for taste, and humans in general seem to have a taste for mixing work and "social stuff", so why shouldn't companies encourage it in that capacity?


We already single out certain social things as just not a good idea in the workplace/events even though its common socially: public displays of affection, having lots of kids around, single-sex activities... Its isolating/disruptive if you can't/won't take part. Its unfair when based on things not in the job description (relationships/kids/gender respectively).

I don't see why alcohol (excludes non-drinkers) or team-building activities outside of business hours (excludes those with family commitments) couldn't be one of those things.


By the time you've excluded all the possible activities that someone could find isolating, you've got a pretty boring work environment.

Here's the box you will be working in. Don't forget to turn off the light when you leave Friday.


That's OK. We are also supposed to have private life. If work is not fun enough without those events, maybe it is not fun in general.

> By the time you've excluded all the possible activities that someone could find isolating, you've got a pretty boring work environment.

Or you could list the attributes that you expect people to have during the hiring process and then decline to hire those that don't fit the company's culture.


Where do I sign up?!

What is wrong with that? It keeps minds focused on what should happen at work: work.

I don’t see how the presence of alcohol excludes others? Most places that serve alcohol are perfectly capable of serving juice.

Its not the presense of the thing or the ability to decline, its the impact on those not taking part. If colleagues consuming alcohol exclude non-drinkers by their intentional or unintentional actions or make them feel like less of a team member (by say getting real drunk which is always annoying to non-drinkers), and drinking is not in the job description, then companies should not make it a part of a work event (IMO).

Having lots of kids around? One of my favorite jobs had a group of parents who would come in on the weekend for play dates (in designated areas). The company supported them, often organizing age appripriate maker type events.

Its not the thing, its the impact on the "normal" 9-5 worker. Its great that the company did that on the weekend, but they clearly didn't think it was good during the normal work week, which was my point.

"I usually skip team dinners when I can."

The other side of that is the question, "How much damage has skipping employer social events done to your career?" You'll probably never know the answer.


On the flip-side, you usually hear about people who crater their reputation due to their antics at office parties.

I'm sure they didn't have "get drunk and make everyone listen to their inappropriate jokes or worse" on their mind when they left the office.


[Googler here] We have much less company-provided alcohol at work than most tech companies that I'm aware of. Mostly beers once a week, and most people don't participate.

This change is mostly talking about work social events that take place off site. My team's company holiday party last year was piloting this and gave each person two drink tickets upon entering.

I think banning alcohol completely would reduce the attendance of these social events, so this is a good step where we can keep the social benefits without letting it get out of hand. For instance the holiday party I mentioned was on a Friday night. I really enjoy having a few drinks on a Friday night, and I'm much more likely to attend a Google party with 2 drinks tickets than one with zero. I know that sounds silly and immature, but it's honest.


piloting? drink tickets have been a thing at google since 2005 ish

Huh that's interesting! Been here for ~5 years and this drink ticket thing is only ~1yr old in my experience.

An incremental step would be for a company to not pay for alcohol. Don't allow employees to expense alcohol. For catered company events, the company could charge people per alcoholic drink or just not serve any.

Most employers don't allow drinking at work. Some allow it at company events, provided it doesn't become a problem. The funny thing is about a lot of Silicon Valley companies, I think, is that they decided in their attempt to reinvent work that they'd throw out a couple hundred years of learned experience on what does and doesn't work in a corporate setting.

The "fun places to work" eventually figure out that fun for some is often at the expense of others, and that most things corporate environments have ruled out were ruled out a long time ago because they didn't work well.


Ever worked in the UK or Europe? Some things are culturally particular.

The policy includes attending google-related events. Not being able to have a beer at a mixer at a conference Google sent you to or sponsored is a pretty shit limitation. Not being able to have a beer at lunch or dinner is also pretty crummy, because the vast majority of people are adults and comport themselves accordingly.

It also depends on the culture of the country.

In France it is common to have a small party (pot) during work hours when some people would have one drink. Max two.

These also can be at the end of the day but then usually this is by someone who is leaving.


20 percent.... it's hardly the main issue.

Having a beer is I engrained in American work culture. Also I've worked at multiple companies where they had work functions at dinnertime and no one got that drunk (generally there were 2 drink maximums, which probably helped) so it's definitely possible to fix the issue without just banning it

Having a beer is I engrained in American work culture

Ummm... no, it's not.

Having had dozens of jobs in five industries over the decades, I've never worked for one where drinking on company time isn't a fireable offense.

The only exceptions were at the company Christmas parties, and overnight DJ's who were tolerated doing lines of coke off of CD cases. But that's another problem altogether.


"Beer o'clock", typically on a Friday afternoon, is a very common phenomenon in North American software & game companies. :)

That's exactly the point - it's common in software, but virtually unheard of everywhere else. So it's the software industry that's out of touch with the broader American work culture here.

Definitely not. I am currently in an industry where getting drunk off the job can (eventually) get you fired. Mostly because drunkards are potential security threats with a well-proven recipe for developing and exploiting the opening.

Our Christmas parties are as boring as a carbide drill bit.


I'll concede that maybe America is too broad to generalize here but the point still stands that you don't need to completely disallow alcohol to have people not really drunk at basic work functions

It's not. I think there is more acceptance in European culture for that. I learnt the somewhat hard way when I came to the US after a couple of stints in Europe. I used to think nothing of having a beer or a glass of wine at lunch with colleagues. But it did earn me a few frowns in the US. This is almost 18 years ago - so pretty sure things have changed significantly.

It used to be fairly common. Lookup "Three Martini Lunch." When I was in the oil business several decades ago, it was quite common for 2 or 3 of us to ring up a vendor to take us to lunch where we'd have a couple of beers.

I won't say it's unheard of for myself and my colleagues to have a beer or glass of wine at a work lunch in the tech industry. But it's certainly a rare event though definitely more common when visiting Europe.


i know people that work in banking and insurance in london and they claim its pretty common to have more than one drink at lunch.

Once upon a time, most companies banned alcohol completely from worksites, and certainly for company meetings, except for offsites like picnics and dinners and parties.

Social stuff should be banned.

Kind of a step backwards in terms of accountability, no?

Scapegoating alcohol seems like an excuse and really is like babysitting your adult employees.

My view - Drink as much alcohol as you like! And if you imbibe too much, and do stupid things, that shows deficient decision making abilities, and you aren't fit to work here.


Unless you are an alcoholic, and you literally can't control yourself. Then parading out alcohol and then punishing her by firing her for not being able to control herself seems a bit unfair.

That would sound like a case where the employee could disclose her alcoholism as a disability, and request the "reasonable accommodation" that no work events she is required to attend have alcohol. Then, if it can be demonstrated that she's actually required to go to a drinking event, gets trashed and acts an ass, she's got a wrongful termination claim. IANAL of course

Many substance-abuse disorders are not treated as special-accommodation-worthy (in courts often or by HR departments by policy) in the the US. Alcoholism is one such example (Alcohol Abuse Disorder is not a qualifier for disability status without additional presenting symptoms, or exceptional luck during disability determination).

That reality, and the reality of addiction, presents a few problems for the hypothetical employee here:

- Attending work events that do have alcohol may cause them to endure a great deal of hardship (talk to a recently-abstinent alcoholic if you doubt this).

- Addiction has no conclusive test or diagnosis--AAD and other indicators are often not present in people who enter rehab, or in people whose substance abuse is identified as a primary motivator for criminal behavior by courts. This means that "getting trashed and acting like an ass", for "real addicts" (whatever that means, which is a troublesome qualifier to add in and of itself) is difficult to prove to be the fault of the company providing alcohol, and for non-addicts is a convenient out (if provided to the former group).

- "Actually required to go to an event" is another troublesome category. Many events aren't "required" . . . unless you want to get promoted/not eventually get fired in favor of someone who attended. I don't propose some legal solution to this (everything I can think of would effectively be thought-policing), but it's an important ambiguity to acknowledge.

- Even if a humane HR/management department exists to whom the hypothetical employee could disclose their condition as a disability, and even if that department lobbied the employee's managers/colleagues to prevent addiction from being a disadvantage to their career, that would still likely result in either a breach of that employee's privacy or eventual prejudice seeping in (e.g. via turnover inside HR) regardless. Not good.

- If those recourses fail, and the employee ends up before the courts pleading wrongful-termination or equivalent based on their addiction, the (at least state) US court system and arbitration organizations are notoriously inconsistent and prejudiced against claims of addiction as any sort of mitigating or complicating circumstance. A company interested in preserving the autonomy, promotability, and dignity of addicted employees would likely view the courts as something the employee in question should be kept away from for their own benefit.

There are many other considerations.

Now, many of those apply to any uncommon disability condition, and it could be argued that below a certain point a very few employees' accommodations should not ruin the fun for everyone else. Even if you buy that argument, the incidence of addiction/substance-abuse related serious lifestyle trouble—principally at work or in romantic relationships—for very large numbers of people in the US is well documented.

Perhaps it would be better to simply forbid the creation of such situations on the company dime.


I'm not a fan of the prohibitionist policies. Finding people who can't control their behavior is good.

I tend not to drink around work because of the expectation of professional behavior and I'm just uncomfortable around people I have a professional relationship. However, I've been at companies who have cut alcohol because a few people are sensitive. (I'm not referring to those who are alcoholics that have self-discipline issues) It's annoying.


A "two drink limit" fails to account for (1) how alcohol affects people differently since two drinks can make some people sloppy while others will hardly feel it and (2) the fact that alcohol usually only lasts about an hour per drink and many social events last a few hours.

A couple drinks helps get me out of my own head enough to relax with co-workers. After a couple hours, the two beers have worn off and I usually want another one or two to keep my sociability going.

I'd much prefer a policy where everyone gets to decide in advance how many drink tickets they want and perhaps say "these tickets aren't good until X time." This would help everyone to regulate their own intake, and it treats employees like adults capable of managing their own bodies while still addressing the issue of people over-consuming by accident or in an unaccountable manner.


I would argue that creating a whole drink ticketing bureaucracy including a pre-scheduled drink ticket release procedure does the opposite of treating employees like adults. It sounds a lot like kids in a school lunch line.

It drives me nuts when companies let a few bad actors ruin a loose policy rather than addressing the issue with the bad actors, but I know, legally, having a strict, spelled-out policy is safer (easier to defend against lawsuits) legally.


It drives me nuts when companies let a few bad actors ruin a loose policy

At a small or mid-sized company, ½% of bad actors can be one or two or three.

At a company the size of Google, ½% of bad actors can be hundreds or thousands of human liabilities.


A valid point, though I'd argue that that same "power in numbers" of companies like Google means PR can swing just as hard in a positive direction as a result of a generous policy.

I think it's a question of where to draw the line. I'm sure an argument could be made that they should get rid of the bikes on their campuses because a percentage of people will hurt themselves on them or hurt someone else and be a legal risk.


>I'd much prefer a policy where everyone gets to decide in advance how many drink tickets they want

Then you would get people like me, asking for lots of tickets as you can just discard those when you are done but you would not be able to ask for extra ones. At that point, you could just remove the ticket system as it doesn't work anymore


Sure but then if you over-indulge you're on record as someone who (1) requested way too many tickets and (2) wasn't capable of managing their own intake effectively or knowing their limits ahead of time.

The goal is to help responsible adults remain responsible adults after a couple drinks when parts of your brain tell you to drink more than you know you should.

The default of two drinks per night is a good starting point; my point is to let responsible adults decide for themselves ahead of time if more than two would be good for them.


honestly if you have a hard time sticking to two drinks at an event that could affect your livelihood, you probably just shouldn't drink.

we don't need some rube goldberg system of drink metering. we need people to handle their own shit. if they actually behave badly you can always fire them.


A couple drinks helps get me out of my own head enough to relax with co-workers. After a couple hours, the two beers have worn off and I usually want another one or two to keep my sociability going.

If you need alcohol to socialize, then you have a problem and should get help.

That's seriously one of the signs of a problem. Ironically, I'll tell you to "Google it."


There's a difference between socializing for a few hours with work people---many of whom may be new and/or have very different styles---and socializing with long-time friends and family. If you have a bit of a hard time socializing for a few hours with strangers and if a responsible amount of alcohol helps a bit, I'd say you're probably pretty okay :)

A few years ago, I attended my company's happy hours. I was an intern and too young to drink at the time. There was an open bar and more or less everyone was intoxicated. I join a coworker and we start chatting.

Fifteen minutes later, the office manager joins in, interrupting, and starts hitting on me in a pretty blunt way. I enjoy female attention but that was a bit much. I tactfully hint that I'm not interested but she doesn't picks it up so I leave early, a bit salty.

The next morning I arrive to work and see an elevator about to close so I rush to catch it. She was inside! The following three minutes were the most awkward elevator ride in my life. I felt bad for her to be honest, maybe I shouldn't, but it must be so embarrassing when you sober up.


That sounds like the most typical work party story ever. People make romantic advances, often can't judge the reaction correctly and it's awkward afterwards when everybody sobers up.

It's much more awkward the next day after drunk sex in a deserted office though.


I can't even identify when people are black out drunk, for some reason. There's not always a slur, and I probably keep enough distance to not smell it. But I've been surprised when a half hour into conversations people have told me they're drunk. Twice that I recall.

On the flip side, people have made up stories of me being drunk after having 2 drinks, and my having had any drinks at all makes my side of the story have no credibility. No good. Like when a cop pulls you over and asks if you've had any drinks.

So I'm all for getting booze out of the workplace. I'd had my consumption limited to 2 drinks for my past 4 jobs after being fired for saying obnoxious things while drunk. A company holiday party where the tequila was flowing was the only exception, but I kept the volume down that time. I deserved the firing, no complains there.

It's my personality to say obnoxious things, having been raised on dark and vulgar comedy. My only way to joke around authentically now is without drinking, sadly, because of the nature of accusations against people who've been drinking. Just one example, I'm sure other people have personally entertaining activities that they always do but people think they must be drunk when they do it, no matter how sober. Dancing's another one... the more sober I am, the more people ask "bro, what are you on?"

My twitter is a good example of what I feel free to say while sober. Reading it, you'd think I'm always drunk.

I also am noticing after a year on break from drinking that all drinkers are mentally lazy to some degree, and some tell lies assuming that the other party won't notice and I'm likely guilty of that from my drinking days. It's like their memory isn't good so they assume nobody else's is, yet they claim perfect memory.

A little meandering, I know... but overall I think a no alcohol policy would be great.


It definitely sounds like a step in the right direction.

This is from Stephanie Hurlburt's Twitter a while back.

  Ah, game industry culture and drinking.

  I don’t drink. I also feel unsafe being in a mostly-male group when they’re all drinking.
  
  ...
https://twitter.com/sehurlburt/status/999707171381100544

I never drank at work, I don't understand why people do...

When you're spending more time at work than at home, occasionally it's nice to have a beer at work. Don't get me wrong - I'd rather be at home, not working, drinking a beer but it's natural that drinking and work collide when you are working too much and are already stressed.

This is a really good point. A lot of things are going to collide if people are working too much and stressed.

The usual "best practice" advice on avoiding harassment is to not pursue romance at work... but how are folks supposed to do that if they don't have time to pursue it anywhere else? Alcohol might only be a minor contributing factor at that point.


You've obviously never worked in customer service...

I'm joking...well 1/2 joking anyway. (sigh)


Because it's fun, and it's a good way to lighten the mood.

I would have thought "bringing the company into disrepute" would have been enough.

Would be interesting to compare office drinking in other regions.

I've heard stories about Korean chaebols that are hard to believe, but I'm sure there are intense workplace antipatterns worldwide.


In the early 90s, I was told by an IBMer in the US that if he was cought drinking beer in lunch time (even outside in a restaurant), he could be fired, no question asked.

Apparently it was a paternalistic policy that came directly from Watson, who not only banned alcohol during work time including lunch, but also paid the wage on Monday to somehow honder spending it all in alcohol over the weekend.


This kind of mentality exasperates me to no end. I am a heavy drinker (never at work), and I hate it when people blame my behavior on my alcohol level. I always have to correct them, they are lucky I am drunk when bad things happen, I tend to be a very violent and horrible person when sober, for sure the outcome could be much worse. People should take responsibility for their behavior without blaming substances.

I love drinking as much as the next guy, but if you're a "horrible person" when sober, you might be an alcoholic.

You may be more placid when under the influence, but most people are more volatile, more impulsive, and more likely to make bad decisions. Being sober doesn't make people better, but it does make them less likely to do something harmful to others, statistically speaking.

The employees are both behaving like children AND being infantilized at the same time. How do you even get to that point?

Why can't work just be a polite exchange of (various forms of) labor for money? I've been in consulting shops where the liquor flowed. I get it, it's fun but you can't run a large bureaucracy like you can a small tribe. Is that 20% of cases worth the presence of alcohol? Who would leave over removing alcohol from the office? Could that be for the better?

Lastly, I'm not an alcoholic but I have friends who've struggled with it and my heart really goes out to them. Alcohol is everywhere at work functions and I think it's really insensitive. I could live the rest of my life and never have drinks be part of a professional function and be just fine.


> ~20% of cases

What are the other factors. Are there any higher than 20%.


Be willing to bet more than alcohol a common factor would be men being the alleged perpetrator. Another would be the alleged perpetrators are probably in superior positions/title to the victims greater than 20% of the time.

I'd bet that more than 20% are males.

There have to be, but it might be hard to get data, and/or controversial/inflammatory to talk about it. I don’t know if Google will release any statistics on all the cases they know about, and I won’t hold my breath, but that would be pretty enlightening. Things that are likely well above 20% include men being the perp in much larger numbers than the company’s gender distribution (national stats are roughly 80/20 [1]), whether the perp is a higher rank and/or direct supervisor (national stats say this is ~40%, whether the victim was threatened, and what department the people were in.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_harassment#In_the_wor...


Serious question: Does the Chief Diversity Officer include diversity of ideas and experience? Or is it just skin deep like it sounds?

Edit: Lots of up and down votes. Why is this question so controversial? I'd like to see an argument as to why it's an invalid or flawed question.


I work for Microsoft, and the back of my employee badge says: Our Mission; Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

To me, this implies that our engineering organizations, and entire company, need to have an appropriate amount of empathy across a broad spectrum of geographies, cultures, experiences, perspectives, and the like. You only get that by having a diversity of talent, and more importantly, inclusion in your engineering practices.

When I talk about diversity, I usually say; "There are two forms of diversity, DNA diversity, the stuff we usually talk about in terms of color, sex, etc, things you can see, and then there's diversity of perspectives and experiences. You need the diversity of experiences and perspectives. In some cases that's conveniently wrapped in some forms of DNA diversity, but is not exclusive to that".

I don't think the question is at all controversial, and we should not be afraid to openly talk about it.


So what would be the benefits in DNA diversity at all? If you can get a diverse views of perspectives, why bring in the DNA diversity which is going to lead to conflicts as people won't be able to talk as effectively as people who are more homogeneous?

> So what would be the benefits in DNA diversity at all?

Well, this is a pretty contrived example, but IIRC a major company (HP?) made facial-recognition software that couldn't handle people with dark skin.

If there had been people like that on the dev or testing team, perhaps it would have been noticed earlier.


That story is apocryphal. The software in question simply struggled with low contrast images like a dark face in a dark room, which isn't due to racism or employees forgetting that black people exist: it's an inherently hard image recognition problem.

Are you seriously arguing companies should be entirely white and male because then there won't be sexism and racism problems?!

And are you aware that non-DNA differences also create divisions?


> would be the benefits in DNA diversity at all

I would argue there's often correlation between these types of diversity


> Our Mission; Empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Did they think about what they said there before printing? Because there are plenty of organizations which we definitely do not want to achieve more (e.g. drug cartels, nazi parties).


I don't think the creators these mission statements are too concerned about the edge cases.

Not really. PR is all about taking the edge off things. Which is why this struck me as odd.

I may disapprove of one's views, but I'll commit my code for their right for better software!

Serious response: Framing it as an 'Or' implies the two are mutually exclusive. They are not. Diversity is fact. The world is diverse in a variety of ways (skin, eyes, experiences, gender, language, nationality, etc.). Inclusion is the action. Equity is the goal.

In the OKR framework, being able to measure your progress towards the goal is important. The real question is, which aspects of people who work for your company do you measure to ensure proper decisions around inclusion to achieve the equity goal?

It's easiest to measure by 'skin deep' factors b/c that is what human beings most easily make poor decisions on (fear, bias, stereotype, self-segregation, NIMBY-ism, etc). It is also required for companies to report to the US government on these factors because of our history of poor decisions (to put it lightly). It is therefore easiest to use that as a metric.

Serious question: If implied in your question that the goal should be equity in 'thought', how do you propose that is measured?


> If implied in your question that the goal should be equity in 'thought', how do you propose that is measured?

OP mentioned "ideas & experience," not "thought," which seems like an intentional framing as something unbounded and immeasurable.

Diversity of ideas could be measured by the average number of options/solutions that are seriously considered (and investigated/piloted) over the course of multiple projects for a team.

Diversity of experience seems somewhat obvious to me. But if you want clarity on this as well, the idea would be to value various types of experiences in the same way that companies value diverse outward traits like gender, sex, skin color, racial identity, etc. It's a balance. You could hire a person of each gender/skin color combination, but if they all grew up in the New England suburbs and all of them went to either MIT or Harvard, you are generally NOT going to have a diversity of experience, even though everyone _looks_ different. On the other end of the scale, you could hire one person from each type of school, big state school, small technical school, ivy league, "public ivy", liberal arts college, bootcamp graduate, etc. Hire people native to your country/culture, and people who come from a different part of the world. But if they are all white men, you are not going to realize as much benefit.

I think it's important to make an attempt to combine all of these concepts to come up with something that approaches the concept of "diversity of thought."


I appreciate your response and respect your idea of trying to combine a lot of aspects to get the goal. I would challenge you on one point though:

> gender/skin color combination, but if they all grew up in the New England suburbs and all of them went to either MIT or Harvard, you are generally NOT going to have a diversity of experience, even though everyone _looks_ different

Unfortunately, there are many stories, points of evidence, and history that say people who look different, but come from the same place and education level DO have different experiences. Race and gender are exponentially powerful factors that can change a person's experience and outlook no matter how wealthy they are or what school they graduated from.


You are correct, I should not have used absolute, either-or terms there ("you are generally NOT ..."). I meant to say that you would not have _as much_ diversity of experience.

Well stated. Until I saw it, I did not realize how many people went from rich (interpretations vary based on your experience, so "comfortable") suburbs and homes to "good" schools to "good" companies and professions. This is my experience, but that tends to be a common path and results in little diversity of "thought" (meaning ideas and experience).

It's become apparent to me that diversity is an ambiguous terms and its interpretation can vary a lot over many factors and time. I am not discounting any definition of it. When it comes up, it feels like people are on different pages with it. It could more prudent to state the definition when it is said.


Precisely. That's what was embedded in the question. It doesn't matter what color people are. It's not meaningful diversity on its own.

What they seem to be doing is judging people based on surface traits, not the content of character. Their approach to diversity is a regression and not good for progress.


I would caution you on taking such an absolute, "zero sum" stance here.

>It doesn't matter what color people are.

I hope you realize the absurdity of this statement in isolation...


What they seem to be doing is judging people based on surface traits

Do you believe that a poor black kid from Detroit is only different in "surface traits" as compared to a rich white kid from Orange County?

Or would you be willing to concede that there may be reliable correlations between some "surface traits" and diversity of life experiences and viewpoints? Demographic analysis of things like voting patterns in the US seems to suggest differences of such magnitude that I doubt you'd find another factor more strongly predictive.


“Equity is the goal.”

I don’t think this is a good goal. Unless you mean equity of opportunity. Equity of outcome is a ridiculously foolish goal in that outcomes will vary substantially and trying to have equity at the end on arbitrary human factors with easy to measure biases (gender, race, etc).

So the goal is not 45/45/10 for gender distribution for all roles. As that is obviously impossible as roles change and then people would need to be redistributed ad infinitum (eg, project managers have “perfect” gender diversity of 45/45/10 today but now the role is changes and split into product owner and product manager. Does this mean that the roles must include the same gender mix?)


Equity and equality are different. Equitable means fair, just, unprejudiced, considerate of all involved, etc. Equality means evenly balanced, identical on both sides, measurably indistinguishable.

I think we want an equitable outcome and that most people (regardless of any other opinion) would actually agree that equality of outcome is not necessary.


I appreciate you making the distinction, but I still don’t think outcomes are the place for equity. My gender example still stands using your clarified definition.

Is it fair that now a sub population has different gender distributions? Is it fair that 90% of programmers are male? Etc etc. I think it is counterproductive and too late to making meaningful changes based on outcomes.

Perhaps if you get to a high enough macro, but even then, I see logical weaknessss in opinions comparing income based on gender because outcome does not, necessarily, mean bias. It’s just easier to measure.


Apologies for my ignorance but what does “45/45/10” mean?

From context I'd guess he means 45% male, 45% female, 10% non-binary.

Is that a real policy for anywhere? How / where do you find 10% non binary from? I don’t think there’s enough people to go around even if you hired every single non binary person in a given city.

Oh, I see! I wasn’t familiar with this term.

So, this system is used in the United States, right?


Male, female, non-binary.

With a high enough sample size, shouldn't equity of outcome reflect equity of opportunity?

Not at all. For instance, if there are innate gender dispositions to certain subjects, then those fields will have a much larger proportion of that gender. There's evidence this may be the case in STEM for instance, which would explain the so-called gender equality paradox.

Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be useful for companies since even google’s 20k population wouldn’t be big enough to clear out all of the confounding variables.

from all websites I'd expect HN to NOT read OR as mutually exclusive

"Does the Chief Diversity Officer include diversity of ideas and experience? Or is it just skin deep like it sounds?"

Well, to nitpick even further, those propositions are logically mutually exclusive.

"Does the Chief Diversity Officer include diversity of ideas and experience [as well as surface traits]?" Or is it [only surface traits]"

Abstracted, could be "(p and q) OR (p and !q)" which is literally mutually exclusive.

No, I'm not usually so pedantic, I just thought it was interesting.


I think that English OR is Logical XOR and logical OR is English "A or B or both" or "A and/or B".

Oddly enough, my use of or seems to violates the very rule it is used to describe.


OR being mutually exclusive is pretty typical in the english language, for better or worse.

I see what you did there. Well done.

To the degree something is deep, it is not shallow, and vice versa. That something is easy to measure does not per se make it less or more shallow.

I don't have any experience with Google in this regard (beyond looking into the Damore case, which is a bit muddy because of the amount of public pressure Google was facing [0]). However, in my experience, diversity programs and officers tend to be about liability and checkboxes; and there is no legal checkbox for diversity of ideas.

Plus, surface diversity is much easier to measure; and you optimize for your metrics.

[0] Ideally a diversity officer would stand up for Damore. But I have no idea what went on behind the scenes of that decidion.


> [0] Ideally a diversity officer would stand up for Damore.

That claim depends entirely on how you interpret Damore's behavior. Tolerance does not and must not require tolerating intolerance [0].

I'm not stating a claim as to whether or not Damore's behavior should be considered intolerance. I don't have a take on that. But without having some opinion on that, you can't claim a priori that a diversity officer is obligated to enable his views.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradox_of_tolerance


I don't want to relitigate the entire Damore saga. But for the sake of conversation, I will state that my view was that he was engaging in good faith with the diversity program Google was running.

The statement I made in my previous comment does not actually require this however. Even if Damore was actually acting in bad faith, fireing him would still have a chilling effect unless it was thought by every Googler that he was clearly acting in bad faith.

Further, I would excpect a Chief Diversity Officer to understand how perception alone can create a hostile environment, so ignorance of this (or disagreemrnent about the facts of the case) is not a good excuse.


> Even if Damore was actually acting in bad faith, fireing him would still have a chilling effect unless it was thought by every Googler that he was clearly acting in bad faith.

You can't help side effects. If someone is acting in a way that is detrimental to the company, you have to fire them, even if you know it will upset some other people in the company.


"Tolerance does not and must not require tolerating intolerance"

On the other hand, it's rather convenient how much intolerance can itself be justified by simply quoting that and just a bit of rules lawyering.


I feel a proof by induction coming.

> Tolerance does not and must not require tolerating intolerance [0]

I honestly hate how often this is trotted out. Does no one realize that this claim is not based on any evidence whatsoever? Why prefer Popper's claim over Rawls' or Jefferson's?

This is typically used to justify yet more intolerance, and around and around we go.


Especially since in the full context it's a bit more measured. This portion follows what is typically quoted:

"In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force;"

Seems Popper would not have much issue with tolerating Damore, but tolerating things like Neo-nazi marches probably crosses his line.


> Seems Popper would not have much issue with tolerating Damore, but tolerating things like Neo-nazi marches probably crosses his line.

Probably not even then! Neo-nazis are a tiny minority that's suppressed by public opinion. Now if they were to suddenly start gaining political power, then we have a real problem.


>Does no one realize that this claim is not based on any evidence whatsoever?

And yet it remains an interesting thought experiment, doesn't it? Didn't it work on Reddit, in which they found that driving hateful communities out raised the level of discourse? And a possible way to structure society. Hitler himself admitted that had the Nazis not been tolerated, they wouldn't have gained the foothold they did. Not only do I prefer Popper's claim, but I prefer the Frankfurt School's claim too[0]. Which, in my view, stands firmly in line with the democratic functions of society envisioned by such liberals as J.S. Mill for instance.

But it comes down to ideology; it is not a crime nor an intellectual failing to dismiss liberalism on ideological grounds.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18368318


> And yet it remains an interesting thought experiment, doesn't it?

Sure, but that doesn't make it a sound policy for real political discourse.

> Didn't it work on Reddit, in which they found that driving hateful communities out raised the level of discourse?

Or did it simply fuel a growing narrative of censorship and persecution which is driving the counter-PC culture and electing people like Trump? I don't think analyzing this as a closed system is faithful to the point I'm making, because these changes can and do have negative externalities.

> Hitler himself admitted that had the Nazis not been tolerated, they wouldn't have gained the foothold they did.

So basically, had the majority of the country not been sympathetic to Nazi principles, then Nazis wouldn't have gotten elected? That strikes me as absurdly tautological. A minority of people cannot be resist the wishes of a majority via intolerance, and if good people are the majority, then they can safely ignore the minority.

> Not only do I prefer Popper's claim, but I prefer the Frankfurt School's claim too[0].

This claim at that link is pure nonsense: "Tolerance is a democratic principle, since it relies on the idea that nobody has an absolute claim on the truth"

No, simply false. Tolerance is justified by the recognition that all people have intrinsic value ala Kant, that they are thinking feeling beings and that unless you wish to launch your own campaign for genocide against people with whom you disagree, then you should seek to convince them of your version of the truth using non-violent means.

The only time violence is justified is in response to violence. The far left and the far right are both guilty of violating this principle.


> Plus, surface diversity is much easier to measure; and you optimize for your metrics.

I think this is key. Until "diversity" becomes so absolutely fragmented that you get back down to the level of the individual (e.g.you need a non-Hispanic Latino coder, who is Christian but not Catholic, was born poor but still got into an Ivy League, must be over 6 feet tall, and her name must begin with "A"), we will continue to burn resources, mental energy, and time on ensuring that we can't get sued.


Non Hispanic Latino ? isn't that a moot point at his point in history un less you ant to go back to the Spanish/French system of race classification

I think Non Hispanic Latino means Brazilian.

It's basically the same role that chief security officers fill at large companies. The point isn't to actually secure anything. The point is to avoid getting sued for not securing things.

You need to get a better chief security officer.

It's controversial because it's selectively applied and advocates for D&I know it.

There are plenty of Asians in tech (men and women) and yet we're always hearing about a "diversity" problem. This is why tech no longer uses the term minority - they use "underrepresented minority" instead.


Why should the representation of Asians in tech reduce the concerns about the under-representations of Blacks and Latinos in tech?

Because factoring Asians (and Indians, for that matter) in to the equation changes the framing of the argument.

Asians are a minority group, but are vastly over-represented in tech, to the point that even white people are under-represented by comparison.

The concern about racial diversity tends to focus on the idea that white hiring managers are subconsciously selective against non-white applicants. This doesn't make sense though when you factor in the minority groups that are actually over-represented.

So what has happened is that the argument has shifted to ignore Asian representation and only focus on black and Latino representation, while still coming to the same conclusion that white hiring managers are subconsciously racist and that the company needs to take corrective action.

The representation of Asians and Indians in tech should not necessarily reduce concerns for other minorities that are under-represented, but should definitely change the way those concerns are framed. The fact that it hasn't suggests that some sort of tomfoolery is afoot.


> The concern about racial diversity tends to focus on the idea that white hiring managers are subconsciously selective against non-white applicants. This doesn't make sense though when you factor in the minority groups that are actually over-represented.

Of course it makes sense. It means that instead of subconsciously being biased against the non white category, they are instead biased against non white non Asians.

That was an easy logical deduction there.


Not really, you can continue down that rabbit hole forever with groups and subgroups. What of the under represented people of [skin color][origin][gender] in [profession]?

Maybe it has less to do with bias and more do to with preference and culture and upbringing and other factors. Consider how much asian parents, for example, push their kids in education and toward certain careers. Or the over representation of black people in sports and music. Or the dominance of women in teaching and healthcare. Etc.


> The concern about racial diversity tends to focus on the idea that white hiring managers are subconsciously selective against non-white applicants.

The concern is far more nuanced than that. It includes concerns about the the rates of representation all through the pipeline, from hiring back through University CS programs to differences in access to high quality primary and secondary education.

The problems are largely understood as being systemic, arising from unequal opportunity and different social signaling to different groups, not solely from the decisions of hiring managers.


Possibly. If you put everybody into two groups "white" and "brown", that could certainly fit.

If you take popular preconceptions/prejudices around "white" "black" "hispanic" "asian", etc, maybe it doesn't match as well.


To me the notion of a need for diversity in a workplace is absurd. Seriously, whats the point? There are and always have been professions dominated by men and those dominated by women. From the perspective of an employer, gender, skin colour or political views should be completely irrelevant when it comes to making a hire/no hire decision. By introducing rules that aim to achieve a 50/50 distribution of e.g. each gender in any field, you're forming up an artificial construct that ultimately results in poorer overall performance (since you had to reject a number of candidates that likely were more qualified for the position in order to reach your equal distribution goals).

>There are and always have been professions dominated by men and those dominated by women. From the perspective of an employer, gender, skin colour or political views should be completely irrelevant when it comes to making a hire/no hire decision.

What you're missing is that many employers don't have the perspective whereby gender, skin color or political views are irrelevant. Biases against gender, race and religion are part of the reason that many professions have been dominated by certain races, genders and religions (although laws have attempted to counteract this effect.)

The point of diversity in the workplace is to force an implicitly prejudiced employment market to be less prejudiced than it otherwise might be, just as the point of labor laws and the minimum wage are to force companies to care more about their employees' welfare than they otherwise would.


>What you're missing is that many employers don't have the perspective whereby gender, skin color or political views are irrelevant. Biases against gender, race and religion are part of the reason that many professions have been dominated by certain races, genders and religions (although laws have attempted to counteract this effect.)

Yes, but you can mitigate those biases with gender/race-blind hiring practices. This seems like a much fairer and more reasonable option than enforcing quotas.


Blind hiring techniques don't do much, for several reasons.

- They only work at the screening stages. Most hiring pipelines conclude with an in-person interview, and that can't be blind.

- People are very good at reading between the lines and can often infer race and gender from education and work history alone (or at least, infer deviations from their preferred norms).

- It doesn't address the problem of industry pipelines filtering against diversity before the applications ever get to you.

- A manager who doesn't want to hire women can just treat a blindly-hired woman badly until she leaves.

- It implies to the company that diversity is something that must be hidden rather than something that should be tolerated or celebrated.

- It implies to applicants that you have intolerant managers who need to be tricked.


There are certainly problems with this approach and it definitely isn't a foolproof way of stopping discrimination, but I'd argue there is a longer and more concerning list of issues with hiring based on quotas.

All I know is gender/race-blind hiring works fantastically for things like music auditions. For technology-based jobs where most of the interview process can be done in writing, over the phone, or over a shared virtual whiteboard or document (for coding or drawing diagrams), there's no reason why everything up to the in-person interview can't be as age, gender, and race blind as possible.


It may not have much value in a coal mine, but I suspect it is highly valuable even from a purely commercial/competitive perspective in industries and workplaces that are creating/maintaining products or services for a large or broad audience.

> you're forming up an artificial construct that ultimately results in poorer overall performance (since you had to reject a number of candidates that likely were more qualified for the position in order to reach your equal distribution goals).

That's precisely where I disagree. Again, in a coal mine you might just want to hire for simple traits that can be easily evaluated per individual (like physical strength). But on the types of teams I mentioned, the diversity of experiences and opinions across the team probably matters as much or even more than the sum of every individual's "talents." I would guess that this diversity becomes more important the larger the team gets and the larger the audience for their products/services gets.

To be clear, I also suspect that more diverse teams are more difficult to hire and manage effectively, and that's probably a big reason that some companies either don't care about diversity or actively resist the suggestion to increase their diversity.


> There are and always have been professions dominated by men and those dominated by women.

Put in the most mercenary way I can think of:

There are and have always also been professions in which hiring decisionmakers screw their own organizations out of talent by ignoring or down-ranking candidates they were bigoted against. There similarly are/have been professions in which talented people with potential to add great value have been driven away by similarly bigoted leaders.

We don't know what might have been, what potential might have been achieved, because of the idiotic/cruel things we've practiced throughout history. Acting like ethical, compassionate, empathetic people seems like a way more pragmatic way than "well, it worked so far, let's keep being bigoted assholes" to see if we could do better in the future.


You seem to be conflating quotas and diversity, and also conflating mechanisms and results. The point of a diversity office or officer is to provide a resource for discussing whether mechanisms of hiring and recruitment are fair, and trying to improve them if they're not.

Once all those studies that send out the same exact resume with the names John, Jane, T'yesha, Jamal, Xiaoying, and Shan Shan at the top find you get the same number of callbacks, then we'll actually be in a situation where people are being hired on their qualifications!


Apologies, I should have been more clear as I intended to point out an example, not a fixed quota, because clearly if you consider diversity when making a hiring decision you inevitably have to end up aiming to hire more people of certain characteristics(and not necessarily qualifications) that fit your long term quota goals.

Besides, what do you mean by fair recruitment? Because personally in this context I view diversity and fairness as contradicting terms, since it would always be more fair to hire a candidate that has higher qualifications and is a good cultural fit over one that wasn't as qualified, but turned out to be a good match when it comes to meeting present quarter's diversity goals?

I believe that basing hiring decisions on physical appearance, race, religion, gender or political views is simply wrong. I recall there was a company that focused on distorting candidates' voices during phone interviews that effectively prevented the interviewers from distinguishing the interviewees' gender. If companies like Google want to actually be more "fair", perhaps they should move in that direction rather than introducing artificial quotas and justifying them with a vague "need for diversity"?


You mentioned "good cultural fit". I have heard many hiring managers mention that they want somebody who is a good fit for the team. And it's very natural, I mean, everybody is going to have to work with this person, right?

This almost guarantees the perpetuation of inequality. We need to stop hiring for that kind of fit.

I'm certain that I have heard of research (by IBM maybe?) that determined that more diversity made teams more productive, but the people on the teams were less happy/comfortable.


> more diversity made teams more productive, but the people on the teams were less happy/comfortable.

Maybe because nobody wanted to socialize with each other so they spent more time doing work?


The resume problem is the inverse, isn't it? The studies I've seen where resumes were having names removed before being sent to recruiters showed a slight bias against white men which is why these schemes always get shut down - increasing fairness decreases (slightly) diversity.

This whole thread is becoming toxic; and I know my karma will be negatively impacted but I have to say:

Diversity of race or gender is not really important when it comes to working by itself.

Diversity of experience and thought is very important when it comes to working.

What I mean is a very middle-class white family and a very middle-class black family producing offspring in a house next to each other and sending their kids to the same school(s): are not going to be functionally diverse enough for what I'm about to say.

Why?: because people who are thinking differently to you are approaching problems from other sides than you are, if you can be civil then you can build your product in ways you could never do alone.

Now; people who were raised in a different kind of culture or social class than you are basically by default: thinking differently.

It doesn't have to be colour, but in the US (from a brit perspective) your class system looks like black people are sandwiched between middle-class white folk and very low-class white folk. So some people might see that 'hiring black folk would increase our diversity of thought'

or.. more likely, they're being judged on metrics and skin colour/gender is an easy metric to game for.

Giving people an equal shot is noble and we should aspire for it. The business incentives come in because your product will be better with divergent opinions and by increasing the talent pool the supply of coders will meet the demand.. (and then they can pay coders less in the longer term)


> To me the notion of a need for diversity in a workplace is absurd. Seriously, whats the point?

There are some advantages. For instance, people with different religions or cultural backgrounds will have non-overlapping holidays, so your office might be open on days that you might otherwise have to close.

Or consider if you're creating a dating app, you would absolutely want a woman's input on how to reduce harassment (see Tinder vs. Bumble).


I think the idea is to counter one artificial construct with another. It's been shown that otherwise identical resumes are less likely to be selected when the name is clearly female or minority rather than a common white male name. That would indicate a hiring bias that has nothing to do with ability. Since it's virtually impossible to fix that bias, a common solution is to introduce an opposite bias. Not perfect, but I've never seen a better solution posited. "Just have better hiring managers/practices" doesn't seem to scale.

> since you had to reject a number of candidates that likely were more qualified for the position in order to reach your equal distribution goals

Your assumption here is that the status quo of hiring is an optimum that must be sacrificed for diversity.

The reality is that every hiring program already uses diversity as a criterion, but unless a measurable objective is set, it will invisibly optimize for the comfort of current employees, rather than job performance.

The purpose of measuring diversity in hiring practices is to remove or control a confounding factor, not to add one.


I generally agree with you. Certainly 50%/50% is insane when the pipeline itself isn't giving you that percentage of qualified candidates based on objective measurements.

However, as other have mentioned, there are already biases to hire people "like you" and offsetting those biases is valuable. Often, I'd argue "culture fit" is an umbrella term used to keep people who are different out.


"There are and always have been professions dominated by men and those dominated by women."

And a lot of that was caused by pervasive discrimination.


I suspect it's controversial because HNers think you're referencing people like James Damore and/or people who wrap themselves in the mantle of "diversity of ideas" when they start making racist or sexist comments.

Is that the kind of "diversity of ideas and experience" you're talking about?


Calm down, nobody said anything racist or sexist. How do you expect to have a discussion about this when you attack people for words that you put in their mouth before they had a chance to even engage?

Damore didn't do that, by the way.


Your question has so much baggage in so few words.

Your premise is that if the CDO’s role doesn’t include your vision of diversity it is “just skin deep”. Not everyone shares this premise, and focusing on this point also makes it sound like you dismiss all the other aspect his role could have (they’re just skin deep after all, right ?)

To get back to yor question, Google has offices all around the world, I find it hard to fault them for lack of diversity of experiences, nor do I think the thousands of people they employ all have the same ideas. I’d actually think it would be harder to find people all sharing all the same ideas.

Or do you have something a lot more specific in mind ?


I don’t remember where I saw it first (reddit, likely), but: have you seen a msle diversity officer?

Two, at two different companies. One had a male/female team, the other just had a guy.

It's controversial because you're conflating diversity in who people are (that they didn't choose, and can't change), vs. what they choose (actions and ideas that can be changed if the individual so chooses).

What's more important is if those values spread from the CDO down to teams, whether he holds them or not. From everything I hear as an outsider, that's definitely not the case.

Doesn't sound skin deep to me. Why do you think it sounds like that?

It’s not an invalid question. It just tramples on a lot of peoples toes.

It is as, unlike people, not all ideas and experience deserve equality.

How is this for controversial? Diversity of ideas and experience could also be interpreted as lack of direction. In truth, "ideas and experience" could cover anything from cultural issues to technical issues. However, I'll point out some ways that "diversity in ideas an experience" could be interpreted, just so you get a feeling for why someone might object to a non-specific label like that.

Elsewhere in the thread, people are talking about excessive drinking on the job contributing to harassment. In the culture where I currently live (Japan), drinking is virtually mandatory. In fact, I once got an official reprimand for not drinking at a company event. Within the Japanese culture, drinking allows you to relax the way your present yourself. If you are drunk, it is acceptable to clearly say what you think, even if it might be embarrassing for others. This may be the only time to provide feedback up the ladder. Additionally, people higher up in the organisation are allowed to be more familiar with those lower down, which is impossible in normal every day work. This develops an honest camaraderie up and down the organisation and without the social lubricant (or excuse is probably a better word) that is alcohol, the work culture suffers.

Now, perhaps we have several Japanese people who have experienced significant success with this corporate culture. Do we want to grant it a kind of equivalent status within our organisation? Or do we want to have a kind of veto that says, "Despite your previous experience and your cultural background, this is a no-go area for our organisation"?

Even when talking about technical rather than cultural issues, there may be times when we need to limit discussion. I may have hired someone with extensive C++ experience into my Ruby on Rails team. Having that experience is really valuable. The C++ programmer can see things from different perspectives and provide solutions that are different that what the average Rails developer has seen before. However, if the C++ programmer suddenly starts demanding that all string processing should be handled in C++, we might want to limit this discussion. The C++ programmer may have lots of wonderful tools and experience to help them with this task, but the bulk of the developers on the team are not going to be able to cope. Potentially every developer on the team has some niche thing that they would like to introduce. Do we really want to provide a stage for all of these ideas, or do we want to filter them first and work on the ideas that seem most compatible with the team?

It is entirely possible that you disagree with my standpoint. I certainly have met a few people who feel that giving every person in the company an equal opportunity to pursue all of their ideas is a good idea. I have not experienced a successful company that embraced that philosophy, however. Leadership is often about focusing on a few ideas and limiting discussion that appear to be going in incompatible directions. As much as I am frustrated when my ideas get shot down without much air time, I recognise the reality of this necessity.

It's also possible that you have a completely different point that you are hoping to make and it was lost on me due to the brevity of your comment. In that case, perhaps it would be better to try to explain your position in more detail.


i would say that at google there's a chance they're including diversity of ideas and experience.

at most companies, we all know that the skin-deep diversity is the only thing the HR department cares about because it's all they're terrified about getting sued over. however, given google's unique corporate culture, i think that they might be forward thinking enough to seek out different perspectives, but probably not in a quota-driven fashion.


You’re getting downvoted because Google and many other well known tech companies are known not to be comfortable places to work if you’re a conservative. Political ideology, like skin color, should not itself be a diversity goal, but the former often reflects differences in mindsets that may be better suited for certain projects or job roles.

there's a lot more to a person's perspective than their political ideology. i imagine at google it'd be advantageous to have people who approached problems with a plethora of cognitive approaches, however. it's difficult to measure such things, of course.

political ideology can't be a meaningful diversity goal anyway, nor should it be. there may not be a "best" ideology but promoting political ideology alone would be a terrible idea because in the current way that diversity is practiced it would require treating ideologies like nazism as on the same table as others.


I find that the mindset can be dramatically different in many cases depending on one's own experience and background. The length of which a company may intercede or donate to a different pool of candidates, as a simple example depends on the makeup from its' leadership down to its' employees.

My parents have always been right-leaning, working class. I, myself am far more libertarian leaning, with a bit of pragmatism. I'm fairly certain that I wouldn't like the political culture present in Google, and do not feel like my ideas would be respected in that culture at all. It emphatically does not mean that my point of view is less valid, but would more often than not be aggressively dismissed in that culture. Not to mention that I'm a cis-gendered, white male, which seems to be looked down on overall in a few of the large, progressive technical companies by itself.

In the end, it does matter. Culture, for good or bad, influences the makeup of a company. I tend to only have literally a couple drinks a month, or less generally not at work. That said, I don't feel there's shame in having a beer/ale/wine at lunch now and then. It should be about personal responsibility and accountability. It also shouldn't turn into a witch hunt without investigation.

Like most things in life, it depends.


Political diversity would come naturally if a company really is trying to get a diversity of backgrounds and experiences because those different experiences are the cause of political differences to begin with. In fact "political diversity" and "diversity of thought" are simply two ways to phrase the same idea.

The problem with trying to actually do it is that in recent times, one camp in particular tends to label the other as "Nazis" who must be crushed out of existence the moment they're spotted, although there are essentially no actual Nazis in the world today. In other words the side that preaches tolerance and diversity the most can't actually handle it and immediately tries to get rid of it by using the most overblown pastiches imaginable.


This reminds me of a company I worked at where they deiced people were spending too much on travel. So they came out with new rules about travel expenses every 6 months until large swaths of people simply couldn't travel (me included).

But the problem wasn't solved at all because the bulk of the absurd spending was caused by people who the rules didn't apply to....


[Googler] This is how I feel when I see an increased emphasis on training. Making a bunch of leaf-node employees like me sit through more simple online training is not going to fix the problem we have (although it can't hurt). It doesn't address the harassment that comes from extreme differences in power and a lack of accountability.

Still, I am cautiously optimistic about today's announced changes.


It's the neoliberal response to everything. Make cosmetic, progressive changes but don't address underlying structural inequalities between groups.

I would say it is the response by any group in power, corporate, politics, whatever.

They want to makes some news they're doing something, but regardless of organization or politics, the rules often don't apply to those in power.


There will be more stories coming out about Google in the coming months, they are notorious for having a whole different set of standards for their super special elite executives.

I don't know any specifics of an event or anything, but I have heard a lot about how none of the rules apply anymore once you get to the inner circles.


I don't understand why the "mandatory" training has a penalty for skipping it. If it's mandatory, it's mandatory.

This isn't rocket surgery; there are all sorts of mandatory training things big companies do, and they are often actually mandatory. For instance, we've worked with HIPAA-encumbered clients where you'll lose access to their network and applications if you don't complete annual security awareness training.

The "docking people in Perf" thing just seems like needless drama. Just require people to do the damn training.


> I don't understand why the "mandatory" training has a penalty for skipping it.

Because penalties for non-compliance are how mandates are enforced; otherwise, they aren't mandates.

What you probably don't understand is really why is the penalty not immediate termination, or termination after a certain period of delinquency, not why there is a penalty, and I suspect it actually is the latter, and the downgrade in internal rating is the immediate and automatic consequence of delinquency (also, I don't know how Perf works, for all I know the stated downgrade may be enough to normally trigger being put on a PIP and terminated if the problem isn't cured quickly.)


I think it's pretty clear what I'm asking.

It is not a norm in other companies to penalize people's performance reviews for failing to complete routine training. What is a norm is that your manager at some point simply demands that you stop what you're doing and complete the training. What would happen if you refused? Who knows? I assume you'd get fired for cause, the same way you would if you deliberately disregarded any other directive. Like I said: the most sophisticated training programs I've seen simply cut off people's access until they complete training (and thus, obviously, if you refused to complete the training, you'd be let go.)

The Perf downgrade is high-drama. For one thing: it sets a dollar price you can pay to not comply! For another, it throws the objectivity of performance reviews in question (there are multiple factors that affect your Perf level, not just this one!).

So, obviously, my question is: why does Google have this weird, elaborate, high-drama mechanism when it could instead just do what everyone else does: the CEO tells the VPs that all their reports need to complete training. The VPs make it happen, or are replaced. Recurse.


> It is not a norm in other companies to penalize people's performance reviews for failing to complete routine training

It's a norm pretty much everywhere to penalize people's performance reviews for failure to perform required job tasks on time, I know of no employer that doesn't do that (or, at least, expect supervisor to do it.) It may not be normal to apply a systematic penalty of a preset value to failing this precise failing (from my experience in enterprise environments, the normal consequence for a wide range of required trainings is a nag email from HR or an HR-owned bot to the supervisor and/or employee with escalating urgency,and sometimes escalating up the org chart, until some point where more formal organizational penalties are imposed, which the supervisor may or may not also use as the basis for ad hoc penalties in performance reviews even if formal direct penalties aren't imposed because the delinquency is cleared before that point.)

> For another, it throws the objectivity of performance reviews in question

Having a defined, fixed, concrete Perf penalty for a particular violation does the opposite of calling objectivity of the rating system into question.


See, when you read my comments and try to infer what I'm saying, you seem to do a pretty good job of it. So, can I ask, rather than nitpicking (for instance, that termination is itself a form of performance-based penalty), that you simply take whatever inference you've drawn and respond to that?

You've put a whole lot of effort into clarifying what it is I'm asking --- well done! I think you've nailed it! --- but you've come no closer to addressing the question I asked.

Regarding drama: again, given only the level of a peer, you don't know whether that's the product of work they've done, or some weird protest they're making against sexual harassment training. Which brings us back to the simple question I asked: why even allow for those weird protests?


> that you simply take whatever inference you've drawn and respond to that?

I rather explicitly did that in my first response, where I both set out what I inferred you were really concerned about and responded (in a speculative manner) directly to that inferred concern.

EDIT: to be absolutely clear—

Inference: “What you probably don't understand is really why is the penalty not immediate termination, or termination after a certain period of delinquency”

Response: “and I suspect it actually is [termination after a period of delinquency], and the downgrade in internal rating is the immediate and automatic consequence of delinquency”


It's a norm pretty much everywhere to penalize people's performance reviews for failure to perform required job tasks on time

3 of the last 5 full-time jobs I've had were in health care. Which comes with at the very least HIPAA and, depending on the exact type of health stuff you do, possibly other training, every year in order to show compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

I've never been told "if you don't do the training we penalize your performance review". I have been told "if you don't do the training, you don't work here".


Some things are more 'mandatory' than others.

and what if they still do not take the training, fire them ?

Yeah, why wouldn't you? Either you believe it necessary or you don't.

Obviously, yes.

That is, in fact, what mandatory means.

Look at the overspecific promises going forward!

- We will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims

Ordinary harassment and assault is still covered by forced arbitration, as is systemic sexual harassment. Good to know.

- We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training

Everyone knows already that mandatory XY training serves to deflect liability from the company. If the previous instance wasn't good enough for its purpose, the new one will certainly be.

Why not just follow policy in the employee handbook? They usually have a section on harassment and appropiate conduct, and form part of the employment contract.


Sexual harassment prevention training is an area where HR and employee incentives are well-aligned today, because the risk of a sexual harassment incident has a large reputational component.

Gone are the days when a company just needed a box to tell a court that they checked. The public doesn't care about those boxes. The only way to manage the reputational risk of sexual harassment is to really try to prevent incidents. Good training can do that.

Good training does not just tell you what you cannot do, it explores hypotheticals and addresses headline topics that people are thinking about. It is educational not just proscriptive.


Is there any research on the effect of training on sexual assault in the workplace?

Many universities offer scientific ethics training for incoming research students. (The NSF actually demands it for projects they sponsor.) The purpose isn't to make them walk the narrow path of goodness, it's to enable them to spot temptation when it comes, as it inevitably will.

With sexual harassment the line is much sharper drawn. If someone hasn't learned how to behave civilly and not to exploit a power differential in their early 20s, no amount of training is going to help.


> no amount of training is going to help.

That might be true, but what's your evidence? I'm not trying to argue one way or another, I'd legitimately like to know if there's research on the effectiveness of sexual assault training in the workplace.


Still anecdotal, but a few months ago this account of a woman writing for the NY Times and her Tinder date made the rounds: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/07/style/modern-love-he-aske...

It gives you reason to be very pessimistic about consent training and society.


I think it probably removes plausible deniability by the perpetrator. If someone did X and X is explicitly in the sexual harassment training then they don't much of a leg to stand on that way.

Just putting it in the employee handbook is more of a liability deflecting move than actively training people and explicitly creating common knowledge.

I actually think the specific promises are a good thing. They are measurable, concrete actions that are time bound --- "By such and such a date, we will have done thus and so." Like concrete OKR's, you can tell whether or not they will have done what they said they are going to do.

You can also make vague statements such as "there is no place for harassment at $COMPANY"; those statements were made earlier, and they were made today. But concrete steps like "making arbitration optional, instead of mandatory" is one of the things that engineers who participated in the Walkout had demanded. So it's certainly something substantive.

Now, there were some specific requests from the employees that were not honored, such as treating Temps and Contractors the same as Employees; legally that really can't be done except by hiring the Temps and Contractors and making them employees. I personally would invite other companies, such as (for example) Facebook and Apple to lead by hiring all of their cafeteria workers and stop using contracted labor. Maybe Google will lead by example, even if it impacts expenses, and therefore earnings, and therefore the Stock Price. But it's certainly within the power of other companies, like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, etc. to also lead by example.....

Wait, what? Is that Crickets that I'm hearing? :-)


"Everyone knows already that mandatory XY training serves to deflect liability from the company."

That is the way things are today (mostly), but it doesn't follow that this one must necessarily be so. It might end up that way--time will tell--but the company is actually trying to avoid legal-checkbox training and to get something that actually makes a difference.


What is mandatory sexual harassment training? If you're not a sexual harassor, it must be frustrating having to attend such an event.

Reminds me of the ethics class they started at the University of Texas in the business school because one kid lied on his resume and "made a fool of the university" with his ridiculous bullshitting during the senior-year interviewing process.

It was a comical waste of time, and the whole time you're there wondering how it could possibly change someone who already had no scruples. You're left bitter that you had to participate in a function that had no purpose beyond making some decision-maker feel like they were moving the needle on some issue.


It looks to me like US is like an alien planet. What does arbitration even mean in this context? It's crazy that employees need to know these things.

Arbitration means that you don't get to sue in real court, but instead you are forced to go through "arbitration", which is a private company hired by your employer that's supposed to make fair decisions in disputes between the party that brings them continued business, and the random person that will never talk to them if they weren't forced to.

This is not correct. You are not obligated to agree to the arbitrator your company selects. More on this:

http://help.legalnature.com/arbitration-agreement-faqs/how-a...


Isn’t sexual assault / harassment a criminal offence though? Surely the state should be prosecuting the moment a law is broken?

Or does the US justice system work differently?


There are plenty of fireable offenses of sexual harrasment type that don’t meet the relevant criminal standard of sexual assault. Sexual harrasment is not a crime, though often it is very close to the crime of sexual assault (e.g. unwanted touching is a crime).

The Federal Arbitration act was specifically setup to provide a lower cost avenue to settle disputes as it is widely agreed that the current court system is too expensive for the average person.

There is valid criticism that it prevents class action suits, but aside from that arbitration is better for everyone involved. Most people won't even bother to litigate a lawsuit due to the costs exceeding the relief sought, but arbitration is far more approachable.


This is where organized work forces (most commonly labor unions) show their worth. It's common practice that if you are represented by a labor union, the arbitrator (private judge) is mutually agreed upon by the union and corporation, which helps mitigate massive bias in either direction. Most US companies that mandate arbitration, the employees have zero voice in selecting the arbitrator.

That really said nothing. They actually previously had a policy that if you were required to take sexual harassment training and didn't you got docked 1 point? Wouldn't getting fired be a more appropriate penalty?

However they take this "seriously" so I'm sure everything will be fine for Google employees.


You didn't read the post carefully, apparently. Previously there was no penalty for skipping the mandatory training. (The fact that such training is "mandatory" is required by US law. Like most companies, such training is generally done on-line. It was that way at all of my previous places of employment, including at IBM. And I'm not aware of any impact, other than continuing to get nag e-mails, at any of my previous employers for not bothering to do the training.)

Moving forward, there now is a penalty for skipping said training. More importantly, it applies for everyone, including Directors and VP's, not just individual contributors. And one point on Perf is a big deal; it's the difference between Significantly Exceeds Expectation and Exceeds Expectations (or Exceeds Expectations vs Meets Expectations), and this impacts salary increases, bonuses, and promotion.


> Wouldn't getting fired be a more appropriate penalty?

no.


Care to explain why you think not?

Have you ever been through sexual harassment training? Did you feel like it was helpful?

I've been through several and found that no one really takes it seriously. If the things they tell you in sexual harassment training are new to you, you probably aren't going to learn your lesson. Problem employees aren't going to change their behavior. Enforcement of standards is much more critical.

Sexual harassment training is a CYA move by companies.


I think it's helpful if you come from a different culture where some of those things would be considered acceptable.

Can you give a concrete example of this? I'm having a hard time imagining it.

I went through sexual harassment training, and it was helpful because in two later situations where I had to manage situations related to sexual harassment, I knew what to do.

We have separate curricula: one for all employees telling them "don't do it", and a second for managers telling them how to handle reported incidents and other things they may observe.

> Problem employees aren't going to change their behavior. Enforcement of standards is much more critical.

That's not the goal. If people don't know that slapping their colleagues' butt when drunk is wrong, online training is not going to help there.

Training is there so that when it comes time to arbitrate, they can point and say "Aha, we see you took the training, passed the quiz and you still did it, you can't claim you didn't know, you're gone buddy! buhbye" and they kick him out.

> Sexual harassment training is a CYA move by companies.

That is the right answer!


>Sexual harassment training is a CYA move by companies.

And so it should be abolished? I don't get your logic here. Shouldn't we be on the side of better training and more penalties for both employees and companies?

Perhaps you are comparing standard policy instruction with remedial instruction. I assume your statement "I've been through several" is only referring to the former.


Why would you fire a competent, productive employee for noncompliance if you could completely correct the noncompliance with a medium-sized slap on the wrist?

Because not attending the class makes them a million-dollar liability and a hazard to the company.

If you think sending people on a training course eliminates the company's liability, I've got bad news for you.

Terminating an employee for cause is a big deal. Sexual harassment is worthy of termination. Failing to take sexual harassment training is not.

Consistently failing to take training required by your employer is absolutely grounds for termination.

His suggestion wasn't about consistent failure. He said that employees should be fired if they don't take it, which is absurdly heavy handed.

Since when do employees get to choose which trainings they will and will not take?

We have this training. Along with privacy training, and lots of other trainings. You take the trainings that HR lays out. If you want to play a game of pick-and-choose, then you're shown the door.


The linked PDF contains a lot more substance than this PR-ey blogpost: https://services.google.com/fh/files/blogs/november_announce...

>We will recommit to our company-wide OKR around diversity, equity and inclusion again in 2019, focused on improving representation—through hiring, progression and retention—and creating a more inclusive culture for everyone.

What meaningful difference is there between representation OKRs and quotas?


A quota would be a documented mandate to engage in illegal behavior, while the OKRs will just encourage lower-level employees into doing illegal behavior without the documentation and the corporate liability.

Remember Wells Fargo and how their sales mandates lead to retail bankers opening up fraudulent accounts? Same concept. Don't demand anything specific, just demand that something be done and apply rewards and punishments appropriately.


How does this compare with the protesters' demands? Anything missing?

No employee rep on the board. Chief Diversity Officer still reports to C-team not the board.

How about banning all mandatory arbitration so that it is fair for everybody?

That would be unfair for people who want the arbitration.

Sexual harassment training... what a joke

Anyone want to bet whether or not Andy Rubin has actually attended sexual harassment training?

Am I the only one who reads a bunch of the stuff Sundar has done recently as (1) Sundar disagreeing very strongly with how Larry handled sexual harassment issues at google (see eg Andy), and (2) making it clear that he handles them differently?

eg in his Oct memo Sundar carefully pointed out that people at google on his watch have been fired for sexual harassment, and none of them got a package [1].

[1] https://deadline.com/2018/10/google-ceo-sundar-pichai-fired-...


Interesting I sort of got the impression that it was mandatory company provided arbitration with NDA's was one of the key elements of the walkout.

The normal way to deal with corruption, make new rules for everyone except the people committing the corruption.

I thought this would be about facilitating Chinese surveillance initiatives, but on reflection, I suppose that was naive.

> We will recommit to our company-wide OKR around diversity, equity and inclusion again in 2019, focused on improving representation—through hiring, progression and retention—and creating a more inclusive culture for everyone.

How does more diversity solve anything?


If anything, diversity potentially makes it worse, because you'd have people from more distinct cultures, some of which have customs diametrically opposed to the company's policies. Unless, of course, they are talking about superficial diversity: skin colour, sex, etc. Still, wouldn't solve anything.

I wonder how long it will be until there is A note to our employees version 2.0

“We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training.“ That sounds as they will train how to do it properly and not get caught:)

statements like

>Going forward, we will provide more transparency on how we handle concerns. We’ll give better support and care to the people who raise them

and

>We’re overhauling our reporting channels by bringing them together on one dedicated site and including live support. We will enhance the processes we use to handle concerns—including the ability for Googlers to be accompanied by a support person. And we will offer extra care and resources for Googlers during and after the process.

immediately set off my BS detector. whenever someone talks about meta-issues surrounding another issue without ever directly touching on the main issue itself, they're being evasive. the arbitration clause change is a good one. but the entire statement lacks any genuine taking of responsibility regarding the prior anti-employee practices. nor is there any "we're gonna try to stamp out sexual harassment".

notably, there is also no acknowledgement of other recent internal concerns, namely aiding governments in the oppression of their people (china and arguably others) and aiding governments in warfare (the US). while googlers have been shamefully complacent about getting their employers to drop these collaborations, the fact that it isn't even mentioned by pichai in a "please shut up and go back to work" letter is a bit sad.

in conclusion: googlers need to step on the gas WRT sexual harassment changes if they want anything beyond the modest changes announced in this letter and other social issues regarding the company must also be brought to the point of conflict internally.


I'm not a native speaker, but doesn't "We will update and expand our mandatory sexual harassment training" mean that trainings teach how to do sexual harassment, not prevent it? Shouldn't it be "prevention of sexual harassment"?

A few years ago I had to do "financial crime training", and although I had heard all kinds of rumours about what working in financial services is like, I was surprised that they were so up-front about it!

More seriously, I think this is what happens when certain words or phrases become jargon terms - they're used to invoke a concept, and lose their literal meaning. Something similar is happening with "mental health", as in "we should be concerned about mental health", where "mental illness" would seem to be a more accurate term.

The jarring effect comes when people who use these terms frequently and for whom they have become jargon have to talk to everyone else, for whom the term carries its literal meaning. "Sexual harassment" and "financial crime" stand out because their literal meaning also carries a strong emotional charge for most people, whereas their jargon invocation doesn't.


> Something similar is happening with "mental health", as in "we should be concerned about mental health", where "mental illness" would seem to be a more accurate term.

I don't think it's happening to the term "mental health". Maybe it is being used as a superset of "mental illness" sometimes when talking about eg. homelessness, but most of the time it talks about the general psychological health of people. Eg "People in tech need to manage their mental health".


>Something similar is happening with "mental health", as in "we should be concerned about mental health", where "mental illness" would seem to be a more accurate term.

Wait, what? That's like saying "You're not concerned with employee health, you're concerned with whether employees are sick".


I'm a native speaker and it probably should be "sexual harassment prevention training" but I know a lot of companies shorten it to "sexual harassment training" the "prevention" part is obviously implied

The English construct is ambiguous but the meaning isn't so the usage is fine. In fact, adding "prevention of" or similar would imply that you had the other sort of sexual harassment training.

And there would be no shortage of wags on the Internet to point that out.


It's not only about prevention. It's also about recognizing when it happens, both to you and to other people. And also knowing what to do when you see, or experience it.

English is weird and often backwards - eg the fire department are in charge of removing fires, not creating them :P

Like salesforce, let companies ban the drug, sorry alcohol.

Mandatory sexual harassment training sounds quite disturbing. Anybody can comment in detail how it is conducted? Is it really mandatory for everyone or only for men?

I've been through a number of mandatory sexual harassment trainings in higher ed. Some of them were beautifully done legal CYA and poorly done in every other way: "if you do this and we didn't tell you it's bad, we're liable. Please check the box acknowledging we told you it's bad so we're not liable." Totally useless except as a means to design your harassment to fit legal parameters.

The most recent one I did was actually useful (!!!!), probably because it was geared toward helping us employees/professors/etc actually know what to do when a student comes to you with a concern and how to intervene in bystander situations. It did explain the law. Far more useful were the scenarios: "Famous Prof is creeping on your grad student at a conference. Here are three options." "A student comes to talk about their poor performance on homework and ends up telling you they were assaulted at a party two weeks prior. Who do you talk to and who do you not talk to? What are the student's options?" "You fall madly in love with a student in your calculus class and the flame of your passion cannot be extinguished. While you are their TA/prof, what do you do?"

The bystander training and training on which resources to direct students or colleagues to, with instructions on how best to contact the offices, was good. The suggested wordings for responses were good. Often "good people" don't intervene because they don't know what to say or don't want to be awkward. Imagine you're a 22-year-old math grad student TAing for the first time -- maybe you've only been in the state or country 2 weeks -- and a student tells you about a rape during the parties first week of the semester. How're you supposed to deal with that with no training?

It's the only good training I've ever experienced, actually.


It's common in the U.S., and the second question is the sort of thing that would get you sent back to take the class again.

Generally I've seen they use the "stoplight" model, in that some behaviors are "green", near universally accepted as non-harassing, some are "red", near universally rejected as harassing, and some are "yellow" meaning individuals vary. "Red" behaviors should get you fired immediately, while "yellow" often puts some burden on the offended party to speak up about it, and it only becomes harassment if it continues.

Google's training when I took it a decade ago focused almost exclusively on the yellow/gray area and was pretty interesting because of it. Other trainings I've suffered through focused on the red zone which felt obvious, awkward, and dull.


>>It's common in the U.S., and the second question is the sort of thing that would get you sent back to take the class again.

I have to admit I have never been in the US. So, what is the right answer for the second question?

I suppose it should be mandatory for all, but in the same time I have read too many stories about "classes to teach men to not rape" that I am in doubts.


It's intended for men, but actually saying this would be politically incorrect, so it's assigned to everyone. Nobody thinks there is some kind of epidemic of women abusing men in the workplace.

It's usually just some slides or a video you click through, and most people try to fast forward or skip as much as the software allows. That's actually how all corporate training works.


And someone invariably makes a wisecrack about how it's a bad model because everyone knows you speed up if the light is yellow and you think you can make it and rights on red are ok unless posted otherwise.

That someone appears to be you.

What are you talking about? Mandatory sexual harassment training is standard for managers; California requires it for companies with 50 employees or more: https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/sexualharassmentpreventiontraining/

I'm not sure whether your confusion is genuine or feigned. If it's the former, then allow me to blow your mind by informing you that non-Californians exist and use the internet.

I live in Oregon.

It's not confusion so much as incredulity that this would seem disturbing to someone, especially considering it is so common that a major state[1] mandates it for some employees. California is an example that mandatory sexual harassment training is common.


I form my opinion about common practices in the US mostly based on internet stories (and they are often pretty wild!). Among my IRL friends no one ever attended a training like this.

It is conducted like every other sort of corporate training around risk factors for the company, discussing principles and examples of violations and grey areas. Other examples are ethics e.g. "should I take a bribe?" and security e.g. "should i pick up a usb key in the parking lot and put it into a work computer?". Similarly the answer to "should I sexually harass my co-workers?" is also no.

Yes, usually still delivered through some horrendous flash/quicktime mashup that requires you to stay on the page for x num of minutes before proceeding to the next page.

I honestly dont mind the idea of taking any of this training, but I loathe the fact that I'm prevented from completing it at a pace I'm able.


Mandatory sexual harassment training is usually ineffective [0]. The real purpose is to limit a company's legal exposure.

Actually reducing sexual harassment or other negative behavior takes a deep change in a company's attitude and culture. You can't get it from a 1 hour seminar conducted by some HR drone.

[0] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-livin...


Mandatory sexual harassment training is performed by every employer in California who doesn't want to get sued for someone getting sexually harassed at work.

The purpose of it is usually not educating people, but providing a liability shield. Juries don't look kindly when Billy was harassed by his manager, and Billy's employer couldn't even be arsed to put Billy through a two-hour course, that spells out why harassment is a bad idea.

On the other hand, if Billy's manager did go through this training, and harassed Billy, then the company can blame everything on the manager.


Something I don't understand is why not for every other law then? Why does this segment of the law get a mandatory training session every year?

Because in sexual harassment, a manager is responsible for the behaviour of their reports.

Because it is the most common way for an idiot to open up the company to hundreds of thousands of dollars of liability.

Because it is the only concern that is a constant, regardless of which industry you work with.

When you're in the medical industry, managers have to take medical compliance training. When you're in the financial industry, managers have to take financial compliance training. When you're in the automotive industry, managers have to take OSHA compliance training.

But in all of those industries, there is one common element. Managers have reports. Reports that can sue the company, if their manager engages in harassment, or allows another employee, customer, or contractor to harass them.


Widespread feminism amongst courts, HR, employees and consumers. HR matters are almost fully handled by feminists who believe in rape culture. The courts, specially in California, are ideologically biased to believe the accuser and punish everyone involved. Merely a sexual harassment accusation is sufficient to provide a catastrophic blown to the reputation of the accused and the company. In other words, Google has social pressure from consumers, judicial pressure from courts and internal pressure from employees, all derived from feminist beliefs, which ultimately result in a financial incentive to stand against the issue.

Apparently, the expectation that your boss shouldn't proposition you for sex = feminism.

Also, recognizing that a quid pro quo relationship is inappropriate at work = also feminism.

Have you considered that work is for people to go to, so that they can do their ing jobs?


I'm from Germany and I find it sounds disturbing as well, never heard of such thing before. However according to some this apparently is common industry practice. So I wonder, what exactly happens at a sexual harassment training?

  I find it sounds disturbing as well, never
  heard of such thing before.
Here in the UK, you go to an independent mechanic, maybe somewhere in the workshop they have a calendar with pictures of topless women.

On the other hand, you go to a national chain, the calendar has a message about the importance of embracing teamwork.

Sexual harassment training purports to transform organisations that behave like the first one into organisations that behave like the second one. How much of the difference in behaviour is a consequence of the training and how much from other factors is obviously difficult to measure.


You are taught what sexual harassment is and how to do it.

svachalek's answer is pretty good: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18408466

It's usually an incredibly boring hour-long-or-so presentation employers expect everyone to go through somewhere around annually. It discusses inappropriate behaviors like quid-pro-quo, retaliation, inappropriate comments towards other employees, etc.

The general assumption behind it is that some people may not know their behavior is appropriate, and presumably, to remove the "I didn't know that wasn't okay" defense on any future violations. Of course, the issue is everyone knows that things like what Harvey Weinstein or Matt Lauer did aren't okay, but they still happen anyways.

I don't feel I benefit from it in any way after the unteenth time I've been through them, but if an employer pays me to be there, it's on their dime. The college I go to also tries to require a sexual harassment training thing, and I have declined to participate since I pay them to be there, not the other way around, and the dean's office has admitted to me in an email that the "required" training is "not mandatory".


> Mandatory sexual harassment training sounds quite disturbing.

It can be, if it is done poorly. In fact, if it's done really poorly, it can look like it was carefully designed to cause a differentially hostile workplace environment based on sex, such as when every single example or reference to a victim or potential victim specifies a female worker or uses feminine pronouns, and every perpetrator or potential perpetrator in an example or description is male. (Which happened in the first such training I attended, in 1999.)

> Anybody can comment in detail how it is conducted?

It varies. A lot. Even as to whether it is mandatory sexual harassment training or mandatory harassment training that includes sexual harassment as a component.

> Is it really mandatory for everyone or only for men?

Where it is mandatory, it is usuually mandatory for everyonein the workplace, though there is often additional training for supervisory personnel over and above what everyone else is required to take.


My Fortune 100 company has us watch a video where a white IT guy stalks a minority female in the parking garage and leaves a CD on her car with a mixtape, or something, I forget. It is pretty bad.

I follow a simple rule, and so far, I haven't done anything stupid: "If you think it would make someone personally uncomfortable when you say it, consider not saying it".


That's roughly what Bill Gates did, except he actually confronted her in the parking garage. And when Melinda said no, he looked up her number in the HR database and called her at home. Oh, and he was a little more than just an IT guy.

That poor woman, still being victimized by that creepy sexual predator to this day. We should try to save her.


ok, is that scene your describing romantic or harassment, I can't really tell.

Sounds like you'd be a good candidate for additional training.

Why?

I didn't tell the whole video's story, but the use of the word "stalking" should be a tip.

Depends on your desirability.

Why does that sound disturbing?

Mainly because to me it sounds a lot like horror stories about those college classes to teach men how to not rape (I dunno, what happens there? instructor keeps telling "rape is bad"?)

Corporate sexual harassment training is usually quite reasonable (unlike college training which can veer into the absurd).

I'm not sure how much it actually helps prevent sexual harassment though - most sexual harassers are just jerks (i.e. not people who don't know better and would stop if only they had been through sexual harassment training).


i'm not sure what industry you work in, but i've had this at every single job i've held—even ones before the SJW bogeyman existed

> or only for men

If it's anything like everywhere I've ever worked, it's mandatory for everybody, and they go out of their way to pretend their not just talking to the men about the women, but it's actually twice as uncomfortable because all of the women - for whom this training is actually for - are sitting next to the men, for whom the training is actually targeted. So you sit through an hour of uncomfortable filterspeak that would make the 80's Soviet Kremlin cringe.


There may be more men harassing women but you are writing off every male who has been sexually harassed at their workplace with your comment. Additionally you are spreading the idea that sexual harassment is only done by males to females which is incredibly harmful and short sighted.

Looks like Google has tried to dodge directly acquiescing to most of the walkout's demands.

The chief diversity officer will "continue" to report to the leadership team, rather than being promoted. No mention of the employee representative on the board, either. Pichai states they'll add detail to their sexual harassment report, but doesn't commit to release it publicly, as demanded. Google also didn't address pay inequality, likely because doing so would require admitting they've been lying to the Department of Labor by claiming there is none.

But there's an end to forced arbitration, we'll see if that's enough for the walkout crowd. I kinda doubt it.


Do you believe they are lying to the Department of Labor? Do you have any evidence for that claim? I'd love to see it.

Google claims they have "no pay gap". And have resisted turning over their HR data as much as possible to avoid allowing the Department of Labor to investigate it, including claiming it was to protect employee privacy, and hilariously, that it was too hard/costly for Google to gather the data.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor says there is "systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce" and that "received compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters".

A fifth of Google's entire workforce (20,000 people!) walked out, in part, because of that systemic mistreatment of women, and demanded Google fix the pay gap.

The Department of Labor and 20,000 employees who say there's a pay gap. I believe them. Google says there isn't one. I do not believe Google is run by people too incompetent to notice a "systemic" pay gap. Therefore, yes, I believe they are lying.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2017/4/8/15229688/department-of-lab...


The nice thing about ending forced arbitration is that it opens the lever to fix the other problems you mentioned. If they're smart they really will get ahead of the other core issues, instead of working them out in (real) courts!

> No mention of the employee representative on the board, either.

Can someone who knows better than me explain whether this is actually a reasonable request? It sounded ridiculous to me but I admit I am not knowledgeable in these matters.


This is required in some European countries. For example, in Germany, workers have a right to 50% of the board for companies with more than 2,000 employees. (Ties break for shareholders, due to the way the chair position works.)

https://www.worker-participation.eu/National-Industrial-Rela...

Obviously, this hasn't destroyed Germany's economy, so it's doubtful it would hurt Google's profits much either.


50% of the board with votes breaking for shareholders sounds a lot like the workers don't actually have any control at all. What prevents the shareholders from just consistently railroading the workers, forcing everything to a tie, and then having the decision break their way?

I was reading about employee-employer relationship in Japan(in the context of Sony) and it seemed like most people used to work at a place for life. It might be similar for Germany in a lot of industries(Automobile, heavy manufacturing). However, wouldn't this pose a new set of problems when applied to companies where the average employee tenure is very short? I think the average tech worker tenure is very very short compared to other industries. While representing employees on the board is a good idea in general, it might need some modifications before being applied to companies with high employee churn rate.

Sounds like half-communism to me. It's messing with the reward/punishment mechanism of profits/losses. They have 50% of control, but no skin in the game. If their policies hurt dividends, it doesn't matter, because they didn't invest their own money in the first place and the salary is stable. If the company goes broke, they can just find another job.

> Obviously, this hasn't destroyed Germany's economy, so it's doubtful it would hurt Google's profits much either.

You can't say the Germany economy wouldn't be better off without this regulation.


It's a reasonable request, if you consider it from this perspective:

> Why do shareholders get board seats?

Because they don't trust company leadership to do the right thing, without any oversight.

Leadership is currently asking employees to trust that leadership will do the right thing, without any oversight.

This is, obviously, an unreasonable expectation. Even if employees trust current leadership, what assurances do they have that Sundar's successor will do the right thing?

An employee representative on the board is the only way to ensure that leadership will do the right thing. Corporate America has figured out this accountability thing over a century ago.


That's pretty backwards entitled thinking. Shareholders elect a board because they own the company and have rights to manage their assets. Employees are a resource. They have no such rights.

Not necessary. It is narrow minded to only see employees as a resource to exploit.

Actually giving people a voice and representation is good and won't hurt


A voice is fine. But a board seat is not a voice, it’s extraordinary power. You are not entitled to that.

Elisabeth Warren is working on a bill to make this a requirement.

Personally I think its sensible to have some accountability to your employees, not just your shareholders.


I believe it would be quite ridiculous as well, any elected employee representative would probably be somehow bought out by the company/board and become useless. That's what Union Reps in my country do at least - they are basically friends with upper management/board and just strike deals that benefit them rather than the workers

This whole PR looks like a CYA for the company because all if not most of these changes occur are mandatory [0] or gestures due to the power that the harassers have over their subordinates (report me and you're fired!). Am I wrong to assume that all the serial sex harassers have been managers to their targets?

How about a subordinate relationship ban? This policy prohibiting relationships already occur for between doctor and patient, teacher and student. Even the recent police and detained people sex ban? [1]

[0] https://hrdailyadvisor.blr.com/2018/10/04/new-california-law...

[1] http://m.amsterdamnews.com/news/2018/apr/05/bill-bans-cops-s...

If I was a protester, I would ask Google execs how these policies will tackle the abuse of power for sexual activity.


Why don't they make all their employees remote? Having them in the office only seems to bring trouble.

Or just separate men from women. It works in the middle east




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