Chinese tech giant, Alibaba Group has terminated the employment of a manager accused of sexually assaulting a female employee and promised to set up policies to prevent sexual harassment in the future.
During the weekend, a female employee posted on Alibaba’s Intranet, accusing her supervisor and a company client of sexually assaulting her. In the 11-page post, the woman explained how her supervisor forced her to drink excessively during a business dinner prompting the client to engage in inappropriate sexual activities with her. This, she said, happened on the night of July 27.
She woke up naked in a hotel room the next day with no memory of what had happened the previous night.
The woman said that the hotel’s surveillance cameras showed her manager entering her room four times that night. But to make matters worse, she said her superiors and Alibaba’s human resource department had not taken the matter seriously five days after she reported the incident.
But according to an internal memo by Alibaba Chief Executive, Daniel Zhang, the manager who worked at the grocery delivery unit neighbourhood retail confessed to having “intimate acts” with the employee while she was inebriated.
He further stated that the manager “has been fired and will never be re-hired” while noting that the matter has been taken up by law enforcement officials who will go on to determine whether he broke the law.
Daniel Zhang called the incident a ‘humiliation” for all Alibaba employees. He also said that Alibaba will conduct a company-wide training program on employee rights protection, including anti-sexual harassment.
“We must use this opportunity to reflect and rebuild our thinking and actions fully. Change is only possible if everyone takes individual action, but it must start at the top. It starts with me.Daniel Zhang
According to the woman whose identity is unknown, on the 2nd of Aug, after returning to Hangzhou, where Alibaba’s headquarters is located, she reported the incident to the human resources department and her superiors. She then asked for the manager to be fired and to be given some time off for herself.
The employee said in her statement that the department initially agreed to her request but later did not comply with what was agreed.
The incident has also led to the resignation of the president of Alibaba’s Citywide Retail Business Group, Li Yonghe, as well as the company’s Human Resources Generalist, Xu Kun, for failing to respond adequately.
In a statement, Daniel Zhang said he would leave it up to the law enforcement authorities to determine whether the manager had committed rape or any other crime.
The police in Jinan where the offence took place has also announced that they are investigating the case and gathering evidence. The police also said Alibaba is working with the police on their investigation.
AliBaba is catching a lot of flak following the development. One of the top trending items on China’s Twitter-like service, Weibo is an online declaration of about 6,000 Alibaba employees banding together to protest and overhaul “systemic inadequacies and a lack of protection for female employees.” The topic has generated more than 800 million views.
Similarly, Chinese media and authorities have come down hard on the tech company, most of the criticism coming because of its delayed handling of the matter.
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