In an internal email shared with The Verge, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that YouTube is taking a “hard look” at its harassment policies and will consult “many groups, including people who have themselves experienced harassment,” as well as Google employee resource groups.
During a meeting on Tuesday, Pichai, YouTube product and design SVP Neal Mohan, trust and safety VP Kristie Canegallo, and chief diversity officer and head of employee engagement Melonie Parker met with representatives from the company’s LGBTQ groups. Topics discussed included what one employee called “the pattern of crises” related to the LGBTQ community and a need for earlier internal engagement with LGBTQ groups on policy decisions.
At Code Conference the previous day, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized to the LGBTQ community following widespread backlash to the company’s recent policy decisions regarding conservative pundit Steven Crowder’s channel. (Vox is a publication of Rapida, which also owns The Verge.) “I’m really, personally very sorry,” Wojcicki said. “YouTube has always been a home of so many LGBTQ creators, and that’s why it was so emotional. Even though it was a hard decision, it was harder that it came from us — because it was such an important home.”
Google employees who have previously spoken to The Verge have voiced anger and exhaustion over YouTube’s actions. “[Executives] ignore us completely unless there is extreme unrest,” one told The Verge. “We can’t trust them anymore to listen in good faith.”
Pichai echoes Wojcicki’s apology and adds that he regrets “that this happened during Pride month when we should be celebrating the incredible LGBTQ+ community you all have built at Google.”
Below is Pichai’s email in its entirety.
I want to thank the Gayglers Americas Steering Committee and Pride@YouTube for the good discussion yesterday.
It was important for me to hear directly from LGBTQ+ Googlers to better understand the full range of experiences. One thing that came through very clearly is the LGBTQ+ community has felt a lot of pain and frustration over recent events.
Yesterday, Susan apologized publicly for the pain some of these issues have caused. I share that feeling and especially regret that this happened during Pride month when we should be celebrating the incredible LGBTQ+ community you all have built at Google.
Our Gaygler and Trans communities have always been a core part of Google culture. You are a source of pride for us as Googlers, and also a source of hope for people globally who don’t feel comfortable being out in their own workplaces and communities. It’s important to me that we continue to work hard to ensure Google is a place where everyone feels included.
With respect to YouTube, Susan and the team are already taking a hard look at the harassment policies and will do this in consultation with many groups, including people who have themselves experienced harassment. We’re also thinking through ways to engage more with our LGBTQ+ community at important moments and get input from our ERG leads and representatives.
Our discussion yesterday was a great starting point. It was a tough conversation at times — and I really appreciate the honestly and rigor you brought to it. Thank you again for your candor, your ideas, and your commitment. Look forward to continuing the conversation. I am committed to taking action and working with you all to make our workplace more inclusive and to ensure our products work for everyone.