GUANGZHOU, China – Alibaba has fired a manager accused of sexual assault and sanctioned other employees as the Chinese e-commerce giant seeks to limit reputational damage.
Over the weekend, an employee wrote a post on the Alibaba intranet accusing her supervisor Wang Chengwen and a customer of the company of sexual assault. The allegations went viral when the post was later shared on Weibo, China’s social media platform similar to Twitter.
The woman alleges that Wang forced her to drink excessively during a business dinner in Jinan one night in late July. She said she woke up the next morning naked in her bed in her hotel room. The employee said she vaguely remembers Wang kissing and touching her the night before in her room.
The manager admitted to having had “intimate acts” with a drunk employee, according to a letter sent to employees by Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang. The memo added that the fired manager “will never be rehired.”
“Whether he has committed rape or indecency that violates the law will be determined by the police,” the memo said.
While the Jinan police are still investigating the incident, Alibaba said it decided to sanction the manager and the rest of the staff after it “gained clarity on some critical facts about the handling of the incident.”
The employee said she reported the incident to Alibaba and asked that Wang be fired, but did not see any immediate action being taken.
Alibaba said two employees have resigned: Li Yonghe, head of a business unit that includes Alibaba’s food delivery business, along with the division’s head of human resources, Xu Kun.
“When the employee reported a heinous act, such as a violation, he did not make timely decisions or take appropriate action,” Zhang said in the memo.
Alibaba’s Chief of Staff Judy Tong will receive a demerit. Zhang criticized HR, saying they “didn’t pay enough attention and care to our people.”
“At the same time, there was no emergency response system and a serious error in judgment was made. In the event of a criminal investigation, the relevant parties were not suspended. This indicates a problem in our culture and capacity development. Faced with this systemic problem situation, leadership must be held accountable, “he said.
A company spokesperson said in a statement that “Alibaba Group has a zero tolerance policy against sexual misconduct, and ensuring a safe workplace for all of our employees is Alibaba’s top priority.”
Zhang called the incident “embarrassing” and said the company must “rebuild” and “change.”
The CEO said Alibaba will now conduct company-wide training on protecting employee rights, including sexual harassment. The company will also “accelerate the formation of a policy against sexual harassment.”
While police are still investigating the incident, Zhang said the company “strongly opposes the ugly culture of forced consumption.”
“Regardless of gender, whether it is a request made by a client or a supervisor, our employees are authorized to reject it,” he wrote in the memo.
Alibaba shares in Hong Kong fell 2.5% in afternoon trading as the news piled up further pressure on a company that is still under regulatory scrutiny after a $ 2.8 billion antitrust fine earlier this year. anus.
China’s MeToo movement has not taken off as it has in the United States and other parts of the world. But it has started to gather steam more recently after Chinese-Canadian pop star Kris Wu was charged with rape and detained by police in Beijing. He has denied the allegations.