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Google CEO: Apology for past harassment issues not enough

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, speaking at the company's I/O developer conference
Sundar Pichai. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told employees Tuesday that the company's contrition for handling of past sexual harassment didn't go far enough and promised to take a "much harder line" going forward. Pichai also pledged support for employees who choose to take part in a walkout on Thursday.

Why it matters: Google has come under attack for paying exit packages to executives in who have left in the wake of sexual harassment allegations while continuing the employment of others credibly accused of misconduct.

"I am deeply sorry for the past actions and the pain they have caused employees," Pichai said in an e-mail obtained by Axios. "Larry mentioned this on stage last week, but it bears repeating: if even one person experiences Google the way the New York Times article described, we are not the company we aspire to be."

As first reported by Axios, Richard DeVaul, a director at Google parent X, resigned earlier on Tuesday. DeVaul had been accused of multiple incidents of harassment, including improper conduct with a job applicant.

Here's the complete e-mail, sent to all Google employees:

Hi everyone,
Since last week, I’ve heard from many of you. Some of you wrote me personally. Others have shared their thoughts with leaders and fellow Googlers. One thing that's become clear to me is that our apology at TGIF didn't come through, and it wasn't enough. We hear you.
So first, let me say that I am deeply sorry for the past actions and the pain they have caused employees. Larry mentioned this on stage last week, but it bears repeating: if even one person experiences Google the way the New York Times article described, we are not the company we aspire to be.
I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel. I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society… and, yes, here at Google, too.
As CEO, it’s been personally important to me that we take a much harder line on inappropriate behavior. We have taken many steps to do so, and know our work is still not done. Over the past two years, we have terminated 48 people, including 13 senior managers and above for sexual harassment. None of these people received an exit package. And to clarify: in that time, we have also not provided any exit packages to executives who departed voluntarily in the course of a sexual harassment investigation.  
Some of you have raised very constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward. I am taking in all your feedback so we can turn these ideas into action. We will have more to share soon. In the meantime, Eileen will make sure managers are aware of the activities planned for Thursday and that you have the support you need.
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