• Anti-graft agency urges employees to break ‘unspoken rules’ at work
• Tech giant dragged over the coals for ‘unhealthy work environment’
China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, its top anti-corruption agency, has criticised what it called a “disgusting” culture of business drinking following a sexual assault scandal at e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
“In the incident, an unhealthy dynamic in a working environment, a disgusting drinking culture, a lack of transparency when reporting issues together exposed pervasive, deeply rooted unspoken rules,” it said in a notice on its website.
The piece calls on people to break “unspoken rules” such as coerced drinking.
On Sunday, a female Alibaba staffer alleged that she was sexually assaulted by her manager and a client while on a business trip to the city of Jinan in Shandong province.
The incident caused a storm on Chinese social media and a public backlash against Alibaba, after it became one of the top-viewed items on Weibo.
The staffer alleged that she was coerced into drinking while at a dinner meeting. She said that when she recounted the event to a high-level manager, he described drinking as necessary to do business.
The company said on Sunday it had a “zero-tolerance policy against sexual misconduct” and was cooperating with a police investigation into the employee’s sexual assault allegations.
Alibaba had already been under scrutiny from the government, which has launched a broad campaign to rein in the growing clout of the country’s tech giants.
Regulators in April hit Alibaba with a record $2.78 billion fine over practices deemed to be an abuse of its dominant market position.
State media on Sunday quoted an internal memo reportedly posted by Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang, saying he was “shocked, furious, and ashamed” about the misconduct case.
On Monday, Zhang announced that the alleged perpetrator, along with several other Alibaba staff, had been fired. He also urged Alibaba employees to feel empowered to reject drinking alcohol.
• Reuters and AFP