Alibaba fires director accused of sexually assaulting colleague • The Register
Content Warning: Sexual Assault Chinese tech giant Alibaba has terminated the job of a manager accused of sexually assaulting a coworker.
News of the alleged assault came to light on Weibo, China’s Twitter analogue, when screenshots from a post on Alibaba’s intranet appeared. The register saw the post and it’s heartbreaking: it details the experience of an employee in one of Alibaba’s grocery stores who felt compelled to attend a business trip, and recounted that she was then forced to drink with male colleagues and, while intoxicated, was sexually harassed by patrons in a karaoke bar – while her male managers watched and did nothing.
The author claims that officials subsequently sexually assaulted her on several occasions in her hotel room and that when she reported the incident, Alibaba staff members requested video evidence before proceeding. consider an investigation.
No investigation was opened and the woman felt she had no choice but to share her story on the company’s intranet.
The message quickly circulated beyond Alibaba and drew widespread criticism against the executives involved and Alibaba’s corporate culture.
On Monday, Alibaba chief executive Daniel Zhang acknowledged the incident with his own intranet post, which was also widely copied and shared outside of Alibaba. Zhang announced that the director accused of sexual assault had been fired and would never be rehired, said other staff members suspected of being involved in the incident had been suspended pending an investigation and left. apologized for the incident and Alibaba’s corporate culture.
Alibaba’s human resources manager was reprimanded and two managers resigned for lack of response to the initial complaint. The company has promised to develop and deploy policies on sexual harassment and misconduct.
Chinese state media sharply criticized Alibaba for not taking responsibility for the matter and using its wealth to create a decent corporate culture.
The incident exploited two current movements in Chinese culture.
One is a growing #MeToo-like movement that seeks to expose and change the institutional sexism that makes it difficult to report and prosecute sexual assault in China. The move has become prominent in recent weeks after a pop star was arrested after being accused of pressuring women into having sex.
The other is the ongoing government crackdown on big tech, which Beijing sees as indifferent to Chinese values and needlessly focused on profit. Chinese workers also oppose the big tech corporate culture, which for years has been happy to have staff work from nine in the morning to nine in the evening, six days a week – the code says “996”. It has rarely been set in stone, but has been seen as a sign of genuine commitment and has become a cultural touchstone of China’s tech industry. As was the case with business trips, we prefer to avoid it.
Messages seen by The register suggest that the person fired by Alibaba recently looked for a job at another tech company and passed a first round of interviews.
It is too early to say if this incident will have the same impact in China as the #MeToo movement in the West.
But Alibaba and other Chinese tech giants are certainly no longer seen as examples of China’s rapid development and increasing sophistication. ®
Guidance on reporting sexual assault can be found here for UK readers, here for US readers, and here for Australian readers.