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10.23.19
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Some Big Tech Employees Fear The Future They’re Creating

October 31st 18__Dan Robitzski__Filed Under: Future Society
Tag Hartman-Simkins

My Hero

The past year has brought unprecedented public scrutiny of big tech companies, from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal to Amazon’s overworked and underpaid warehouse workers.

Now, a new survey of those tech companies’ employees suggests that the people who keep big tech running are deeply divided about their employers’ role in the world’s future.

Blind Justice

Blind is an app that lets tech workers sign up with company email addresses and anonymously gossip about their employers. The startup recently asked its users whether they thought the tech companies where they work are making the world a better place — and the results are all over the place.

At Google, where employee protested the company’s work on military drones earlier this year, a solid 85 percent of employees said they feel like the company is making the world a better place. At Amazon, where there was an employee outcry when it emerged that the company was selling AI surveillance systems to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 67 percent felt positively about the company’s role in the world.

Overall, two thirds of surveyed workers thought their employers were improving the world. It makes sense that people would choose to continue working for companies that they believe make a difference, especially if they’re engineers who would have an easy time finding a new job.

But the surprising rift between employees and their companies — 35 percent of Facebook employees said their company was not making the world better, for instance — shows that Silicon Valley, at best, is careening away from how people want the world to work. And at worst, it’s making things less good.

Follow the Money

To be clear, we have no idea who these respondents are, what jobs they do, or whether they’re representative of their employers’ workforces. And because the poll was totally voluntary, the number of participants per company fluctuated wildly, from 57 at Tesla to 857 at Amazon.

But it’s safe to assume that if all of a company’s employees were polled, the numbers might have gone down a bit. After all, the Amazon warehouse workers who reportedly found themselves peeing in bottles to reach quota were likely too busy to scroll through an app and take a random workplace satisfaction survey. Though, to be fair, many were contractors who wouldn’t have been able to comment on Amazon in Blind anyway.

READ MORE: 67% of Techies Thing They are Changing the World [Blind’s Work Talk Blog]

More on workplace satisfaction: It’s Amazon Prime Day. Don’t Buy Anything.