Google has told its employees to cut out political debate and politics at work.
The company put out employee guidelines last week, according to widely published news reports, informing staffers that “disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story” does not help build community.
Google always took pride in embracing free speech and open debates among employees. But that free-range approach is creating challenges. For instance, the tech giant found itself in the crosshairs of some prominent politicians accusing it of an anti-conservative bias, as well as some employees who said they were retaliated against for speaking out about equal treatment and equal opportunity.
Guidelines on politics at work
“Community guidelines exist to support the healthy and open discussion that has always been a part of our culture. They help create an environment where we can come together as a community in pursuit of our shared mission and serve our users,” a Google spokeswoman told CNN Business. “It’s critical that we honor that trust and uphold the integrity of our products and services. The guidelines are official policy and apply when employees are communicating in the workplace.”
Google first published community guidelines about a year ago concerning how employees engaged with each other, specifying that trolling online and name calling are not okay in the workplace.
The new guidelines take that a step further, noting employees should not make “statements that insult, demean, or humiliate (whether individually or by reference to groups) other employees, our extended workforce, our business partners, or others (including public figures).”
The guidance also applies to internal channels, including the company’s email listservs, where a lot of employee conversation takes place.
Google is also seeking to cut back on employees making “false or misleading statements about Google’s products or business that could undermine trust in our products and the work that we do,” according to its guidelines.
In addition to the new guidance, which was first sent in an email by CEO Sundar Pichai to employees before it was published online, the company said there will be a new “central flagging tool” for employees to report content that may not align with its guidelines. A new “community management team” will then assess whether the content is in violation.