It’s been almost one year since Alphabet shareholders sued company leadership, including the board, over its handling of sexual misconduct claims against top executives. The suit, which was filed in California Superior Court, alleged that the board had an “active and direct role” in approving multi-million-dollar exit packages for executives following sexual misconduct allegations prompting widespread employee walkouts last November.
This August, Jennifer Blakely, a former senior contracts manager in Google’s legal department, penned an essay on Medium that detailed a 2004 relationship with Alphabet Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, resulting in a son. In the post, she alleges that she was moved from the legal department to sales. Despite facing heightened public scrutiny through all of these events, the company has remained mostly silent in recent months in regards to the allegations. Yesterday; however, CNBC reported that the board of directors has opened an investigation into how executives handled claims of sexual harassment.
According to the report, Alphabet’s board has formed a Special Litigation Committee of independent directors and retained the law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore to assist in the investigations of the allegations made.
Seemingly in an effort do downplay the news, Alphabet released a single statement by an unnamed spokesperson: “As has already been confirmed in public court filings, in early 2019, Alphabet’s Board of Directors formed a special litigation committee to consider claims made by shareholders in various lawsuits relating to past workplace conduct.”
According to a report by Reuters, the board plans to complete its investigation by next month. For now, it remains unclear whether the committee or the law firm has interviewed any of the accused executives, victims or witnesses.
Google’s Code of Conduct, which was last updated in July of 2018, reads: “If you have a question or ever think that one of your fellow Googlers or the company as a whole may be falling short of our commitment, don’t be silent. We want – and need – to hear from you.”
That said, in the wake of the lawsuit, and as the company continues to hold its cards close to the vest and deny comment, questions have begun to swirl about the whether the company is living up to its own promise of an open door policy and if it should be more transparent about steps being taken to rectify its increasingly scrutinized culture.
Source: Forbes – Leadership