Alibaba fires man accused of sexual assault, two executives resign
Updated 13:15, 09-Aug-2021
By Yao Nian, Yang Jing
Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, China, November 11, 2020. /VCG

Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou, China, November 11, 2020. /VCG

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group will fire a male employee accused of raping a female employee, and two executives who mishandled the sexual assault allegation have resigned, the company announced on Monday morning. 

Over the weekend, a female employee of Alibaba claimed that she was sexually assaulted by her colleague and a client when she was inebriated during a "forced" business trip on the evening of July 27 in Jinan, east China's Shandong Province.  

Her 11-page account of the allegations was circulated on Alibaba's internal discussion board on Saturday night and then quickly went viral across Chinese social media, including the Twitter-like microblogging site Weibo, where seven of the top 30 trending topics related to Alibaba and the allegation, raising concerns over the treatment of women in the workplace. 

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Alibaba under social media storm after female employee alleges sexual assault 

Alibaba's CEO Daniel Zhang announced the termination of the accused man in an internal memo early Monday morning.

"He will be fired and never be rehired," Zhang said in the memo. "Whether he has committed rape or indecency that violates the law will be determined by law enforcement."

According to the memo, the accused man has confessed that there were intimate acts with the female employee while she was inebriated, which seriously violates the company's policy.

Li Yonghe, president of the company's city retail unit, and Xu Kun, human resource generalist of the unit, have both quit because they failed to respond quickly and appropriately after the female employee reported the incident, the memo said. 

Meanwhile, Alibaba's Chief People Officer Judy Tong will be given a demerit for her department's handling of the matter.

"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," the memo said.

"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 CEO said the decisions were made following an intense day of investigation by Alibaba's internal task force. 

Zhang also said Alibaba will conduct a company-wide investigation on sexual harassment and establish a reporting channel. 

Alibaba's Hong Kong-listed share price dropped by more than 2 percent to 189.3 Hong Kong dollars (about $24.33) early Monday morning.  

On Saturday, the Jinan police acknowledged opening an investigation into the allegations in a post on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo, adding that the findings will be revealed to the public in time. 

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