If an employee has a harassment issue within their workplace, the HR department is usually the go to place to report it. Unless you work for Google, who are hoping transparency will put a stop to bad behaviour.

Google have launched an anonymous message board for employees to report instances of harassment. The employee run message board is believed to have had over 20% of the Google and Alphabet workforce sign up since October 2016. Google management has no say about what appears on the board, although specific teams or individuals may be consulted about items prior to them being published.

Yes, at Google

Some allegations, according to documents seen by Bloomberg earlier this month, include:

  • “A colleague started a meeting off by making a joke that called a woman in the adjacent meeting room ‘some random b****.”
  • A complaint about Google’s on-campus hairdressers: “[Hairdressers say]: ‘I’ve never encountered hair like yours before’. [This] comes across as code for: ‘I’m not trained to cut the hair of people of your race’.”
  • A ‘Noogler’, new Googler, who was asked to go for drinks with an engineer. The email read: “Upon arriving, discovered there was no group. Subsequently informed by the engineer that she was expected to ‘sleep with everyone’ because that’s the culture here.” This was accompanied by a note urging for more information to be shared “so [the Employee Relations Team] can look into this matter and address it appropriately”.
  • “A male Googler drank excessively at an offsite event and touched a few different female Googlers in a manner that made them uncomfortable, made inappropriate comments, and followed two women back to their hotel room and told them ‘I’m following you’.” This matter was resolved by Google’s management: “Thanks to Googlers who came forward with information about these incidents, we investigated, substantiated the concerns and terminated the Googler’s employment.”

A Google spokesperson said: “Our employees have numerous ways to raise issues – both negative and positive – with us, including through grassroots transparency efforts like this one. We take concerns seriously and take appropriate measures to address them.”

Employee trust

While not every employee will want to go to HR for fear of drawing too much attention to an issue, highlighting it in an open domain, anonymously could help address the issue and make the offender aware of their behaviour.

By managers monitoring the message board, they are able to make note of potentially volatile situations and make arrangements to fix potential issues.

Would your company benefit from an open system like Google’s or do you think it would be a step too far for internal transparency?