A whistleblower who accused DeepMind of failing to handle her sexual harassment complaints called on any struggling colleagues to quit: 'Your talents will be valued elsewhere.'
- A former employee at AI firm
DeepMindhas encouraged others struggling at the company to consider quitting.
- The anonymous ex-DeepMinder previously accused the firm of failing to tackle
In March, the anonymous ex-employee, whose identity is known to Insider, went public with allegations she had been sexually harassed and assaulted by a senior colleague throughout 2019. She claimed a drawn-out complaints process at DeepMind and parent company Alphabet had exacerbated her suffering.
Alleged incidents included "multiple propositions, grotesque emails and texts including explicit confessions of acts of sexual violence against women, and threats of self-harm," from the senior colleague, she wrote in a Medium post at the time.
The allegations prompted DeepMind's chief operating officer Lila Ibrahim to email the firm's 1,200 staff, insisting the case had been "complex." The ex-employee has since rebuked Ibrahim's words – seeing them as little more than "platitudes."
Now, in a fresh open letter, the ex-employee blasted the company's apparent refusal to implement previously proposed reforms to its HR process, including a ban on NDAs for those raising sexual harassment complaints, and assurances that internal grievance processes would never last more than two months.
"Some of you have asked me whether I think DeepMind is hopeless. I previously replied I did not, and they need good people to stay," she wrote.
"However, having now seen DM leadership's (lack of) response, and heard more stories from others in similar situations, I amend my advice. If you are in a bad situation, leave. HR will not help you, and I have lost any remaining faith in leadership."
She added: "If you are happy, stay and fight for reform in the company. If you are not, going to HR will definitely not change that, unless their leadership drastically changed. Your talents will be valued elsewhere."
The ex-employee added a string of other recommendations for her former colleagues, including signing up to anonymous workplace chat app Blind, speaking out publicly about frustrations, and joining a union.
"If, one day, there are enough union members for DeepMind to recognize the union, this would mean greater collective bargaining power, which would ensure better worker protections, know-your-rights trainings, and transparency."
A company spokesperson told Insider: "We are committed to ensuring DeepMind is a safe, respectful and inclusive place to work for all employees. We have implemented several new and enhanced workplace policies and practices to ensure they are aligned with these guiding principles."
"This includes a commitment to communicate more clearly with all DeepMinders about how to raise concerns, enhanced annual training for managers and all employees with respect to limiting unconscious bias, rolling out additional training for those who investigate concerns, and increased support for employees who raise concerns during and throughout an investigation."
The spokesperson told Insider that DeepMind does not use and has never used NDAs as part of a grievance process," but said the company "does include certain confidentiality requirements in settlement agreements, but we are still clear about an individual's right to discuss their situation - if someone settles claims of sexual harassment, they are free to disclose the facts and circumstances underlying those claims."
The company had recently "completed an audit of its employee relations processes to ensure they comply with best practices", they said, adding that this would be conducted annually, by an outside party, going forward.
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