In the wake of YouTube's controversial decision not to pull videos containing homophobic and racist attacks, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote an internal email acknowledging that "the LGBTQ+ community has felt a lot of pain and frustration over recent events." While a few Google execs have already apologized for YouTube's decision, Pichai's email carries more weight given his position. The email, obtained by The Verge, also suggests that Google plans to conduct more internal discussions aimed at addressing its harassment policies.
Earlier this month, YouTube declined to remove videos of right-wing commentator Steven Crowder, even though they contain homophobic and racist speech targeted at Vox host Carlos Maza. YouTube claimed the videos were "clearly hurtful" but didn't violate any of its policies. Understandably, YouTube was criticized for its decision. In his email, Pichai said he especially regrets "that this happened during Pride month when we should be celebrating the incredible LGBTQ+ community you all have built at Google."
Pichai said it's important to him that the company continues "to work hard to ensure Google is a place where everyone feels included." He said YouTube is taking a hard look at its harassment policies and will consult with many groups. "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," he wrote. Given all of the walkouts Google employees have conducted, we hope Pichai's letter indicates and honest attempt to improve company culture and policies and that it's not just an attempt to appease.
You can read Pichai's full email below:
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.