Chief Executive Zhang Yong said on Monday that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings Co., Ltd. fired a manager suspected of sexually assaulting female employees and will develop policies to prevent sexual harassment.
Zhang said in a memo posted on Alibaba’s intranet that the manager-in Alibaba’s urban retail department, which provides grocery delivery services to local supermarkets-“has been fired and will never be re-employed”, Reuters The agency saw the memo.
Zhang said in the memo that the man told the management that when she was drunk, she had “intimate behavior” with the employee, adding that the police were investigating the matter.
Reuters could not reach this person for comment.
“The Alibaba Group adopts a zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct and ensuring a safe workplace for all employees is Alibaba’s top priority,” a company spokesperson told Reuters when asked about the memo.
Last weekend, a female employee posted an 11-page account on Alibaba’s intranet. She said that her boss and a client had sexually assaulted her during a business trip, and the manager did not take action.
Topics related to the incident subsequently became a hot topic on China’s Twitter-style Weibo Weibo, which sparked discussions on the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment campaign following the celebrity scandal last week.
Zhang said that the president of the urban retail department and the head of human resources has resigned due to the incident, and the chief personnel officer of Alibaba has been “recorded.”
Zhang added in the memo that investigations into other people mentioned in the victim’s account are ongoing.
Zhang said in the memo that Alibaba will conduct company-wide training to prevent sexual harassment and open channels for employees to report incidents. It will also issue a formal, zero-tolerance anti-sexual harassment policy.
Zhang also stated that Alibaba firmly opposes the “ugly culture of forced drinking.”
The memo detailed the victim’s description of the incident, in which she recalled her superiors ordering her to drink with colleagues during a business trip for dinner.
“Regardless of gender, whether it is a request made by a customer or a supervisor, our employees have the right to refuse,” Zhang said in the memo.
“This incident is a humiliation to all Alibaba employees. We must rebuild, we must change,” he said.
Many comments over the weekend focused on Alibaba’s failure to act before the allegations were made public. Just as Alibaba is trying to get rid of the months-long intense investigation by antitrust regulators into compulsory exclusivity and other monopolistic behaviors, the scandal swept Alibaba, which helped to start Beijing’s current targeting of online car-hailing and financial technology. And education and other online industries.
Alibaba has become the most compelling symbol of the widespread abuse of power by Chinese companies and technology companies, rooted in a tough environment that often places profits and achievements above culture.
The #MeToo movement first caused a sensation there in 2018, when allegations against Peking University professors were posted on social media. Since then, academia, environmentalists, and journalists have been accused.
In one of the most high-profile incidents to date, Jingdong founder Liu Qiangdong was arrested in the United States in 2018 and accused of raping a 21-year-old Chinese female college student, although the prosecutors there subsequently decided not to raise charges against it Billionaire.
Recently, Wu Yifan, a former South Korean boy team member, was detained after a college student accused him of exerting pressure on young women.
“I expect the biggest impact will be recruitment and talent management,” said Michael Norris, an analyst at AgencyChina, a Shanghai consulting firm. “Alibaba’s growth requires the establishment of a strong talent pipeline between various business units. This incident may prevent promising female graduates and high-quality female managers from joining Alibaba.”
But so far, the country’s largest company is largely immune to the turmoil of the #MeToo movement in the West, partly because of the lack of recourse to report incidents and the long-standing norms of sex discrimination. Companies also tend to deal with gender discrimination away from the public spotlight. From female bullying rituals that mimic sexual behavior to forced drinking and job advertisements that use women as bait to lure male workers, gender discrimination is still widespread, especially in the technology industry.