Below is a letter to employees from Alibaba Group Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang on August 9:
My Alibaba colleagues,
Following our collective sleepless night yesterday, I believe everyone is anxiously awaiting the progress of the [assault] incident investigation task force and our decision. The Jinan police investigation remains ongoing, and a final determination on the case has yet to be made. But following an intense day of investigating by our internal task force, we gained clarity on some critical facts on the handling of the incident. As such, the company has quickly made some important decisions that we would like to share with everyone:
This decision has been made independently of the ongoing investigation by law enforcement and whether Quyi has violated the law. During this entire process, especially following assault’s report to the company on August 2nd, the relevant Neighborhood Retail business group team leader and the company’s HR function failed to prioritize employee protection and did not give sufficient importance and care in response to assault’s experience and requests. After much consideration and with approval by the Alibaba Partnership, the company has made the following decision:
- Given that the accused perpetrator Quyi has confessed that there were intimate acts with [her] while she was inebriated, he is in serious violation of company policy. He will be fired and never be rehired. Whether he has committed rape or indecency that violates the law will be determined by law enforcement.
- President of Neighborhood Retail LI Yonghe and HRG of Neighborhood Retail Xu Kun have both resigned. Although it will take some time for our internal task force to understand the situation to determine the responsibilities of each relevant to the incident handling, we believe that the head of the business is both the owner of the business and the team’s culture. When the employee reported a horrendous act such as rape, they did not make timely decisions nor took appropriate action. They did not take into consideration [her] feelings when considering her request and undertake appropriate communications. As the President of this business group, Yonghe severely lacked the sensitivity, importance, and care that is expected. He didn’t take proactive action and didn’t respond to messages on DingTalk after reading it. Xu Kun did not fulfill her responsibilities as a critical decision-maker as the business group’s HRG. As such, they need to bear responsibility as leaders.
- Alibaba Chief People Officer Judy Tong will be given a demerit in her records. In the entire incident handling process, the HR function did not pay enough attention and care to our people. They were rational but lacked empathy and care. At the same time, an emergency response system was absent, and a severe misjudgment was made. In the event of a criminal investigation, they failed to suspend the relevant parties. This indicates a problem in our culture and capacity building. Given this systemic problem, the leadership must be held accountable.
The investigation into other relevant parties to the incident remains ongoing. As the facts become clear, we will update everyone as soon as possible.
As for our colleague [ ], this incident has caused tremendous harm to her. We will do everything we can to take care of her.
Reflections and Next Steps
In addition to the above decisions, we must use this opportunity to reflect and rebuild our thinking and actions fully. Due to timing, I will share the framework of our thinking first, and we will put the plan into action soon:
- We will conduct company-wide training and investigation on the protection of employee rights and interests, including anti-sexual harassment. We will establish a dedicated reporting channel. Employees can file a report anytime that they feel that they have been violated. A dedicated professional will follow up on the report, with individual privacy fully respected and protected.
- We will expedite the formation of an anti-sexual harassment policy to create a safe workplace for our employees that has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct. We will invite subject matter experts and employee representatives to complete the drafting of this code together.
- Although the police are still investigating the specific circumstances of the dinner that day, we are staunchly opposed to the ugly forced drinking culture. Regardless of gender, whether it is a request made by a customer or a supervisor, our employees are empowered to reject it.
Alibaba belongs to Aliren. We sincerely appreciate and welcome the constructive inputs that everyone has contributed to making this organization better.
Aliren, this weekend will remain in our memories forever. In the middle of the night, there was an outpouring of emotions on our intranet. Behind everyone’s deep concern about the incident was not just sympathy and care for the traumatized colleague but also tremendous sadness for the challenges in Alibaba’s culture. The pain comes from love. This incident is shameful for all Aliren. We must rebuild, and we must change. Change is only possible if everyone takes individual action, but it must start at the top. It starts with me. Please wait and watch.
2021.8.9 Before dawn