Harassment and Discrimination: Google, and Other Tech Firms, Need To Cultivate Professionalism and Maturity
Google is known for its relaxed work atmosphere and culture. Google employees arguably receive the greatest amount of freedom and personal benefits a company can possibly afford to give its employees. Although the financial success of Google fuels this workplace lifestyle, the culture of Google is the product of its founders and their efforts to maintain the atmosphere that helped them create Google in the first place. In the Google culture, play is just as important as work, because it is seen as a means of fostering creativity and, ultimately, innovation. For Google employees, the barrier between professional and personal is essentially nonexistent. Professionalism is more or less viewed as a constraint or sickness that needs to be purged from the workplace. As awesome as the “unprofessional” atmosphere of Google sounds, however, it can also be detrimental.
For anyone who has worked in a nonprofessional industry, especially one where there are professionally uncultured young employees, the kind of detrimental behavior an unprofessional environment encourages is obvious. The lack of a professional environment allows the immaturity of immature minds to run wild. It fosters a lack of work ethic. It cultures a lack of personal responsibility and accountability, which creates a toxic and stressful environment for responsible workers who do their work and work to the best of their ability. Most detrimental of all, it promotes a lack of respect and boundaries for coworkers and customers. Unfortunately, Google is suffering these symptoms of a nonprofessional environment. The employees of Google are frighteningly gifted and wildly innovative, but the behavior of many Google employees is toxic.
For women, Google’s open culture has not been so awesome as it has become just another example of a “bro-culture ” that has encouraged the sexual harassment of women as well as gender disparities in hiring, pay, and promotion practices. To its credit, Google has haphazardly attempted to address the issue of too few women, but the result has been inverse discrimination, which has also resulted in legal challenges. Gender issues are, however, only the start of Google’s cultural problems. Google employees, who disagree with the status quo, apparently face cyber bullying and other forms of harassment from their coworkers. A handful of employees have even been moved to organize efforts to address the issues of its culture. These types of behavior are the result of immaturity and a lack of professionalism, which can only be solved by cultivating professionalism.
Although Google’s cultural problems are internal concerns, the way Google employees treat each other will impact the way they treat non-Google employees. Given the persuasiveness of Google products and the products of other Alphabet companies, the technical ability and positions of Google employees afford them a great deal of power. Google employees have a great deal of power to impact the users of Google products. Publishers who rely on Google’s search engine, Google Plus, and Adsense to derive revenue, for example, could have their views and their income disrupted after offending the wrong Google employees. In broader terms, Google employees could easily incorporate their bias into the code of Google products. Whatever course the technologically proficient might have available to sabotage users, the immaturity and lack of professionalism within Google’s culture cultivates spiteful, shortsighted, and self-serving behavior that leads to the abuse of power.
Google is, of course, not the only technology firm with an immature and unprofessional culture. In fact, it can easily be argued that many allegedly “professional” traditional businesses also suffer from the same kinds of cultural issues, but the cultural issues of technology firm are of particular concern due to the advent of the Information Age. In an age of technology, those who control the technology hold the power. The importance and prevalence of tools like search engines, social media platforms, and advertisement engine mean people must have equal, unfettered access to these tools and these tools must not favor one group or discriminate against others. Regrettably, the technical nature of these tools make it very difficult for average people to ensure their security and neutrality, thus average users rely upon the integrity of the technically skilled.
From social media, specifically Facebook, there are a growing number of questions as to whether or not social media platforms can be trusted. One important question is whether social media platforms like Facebook can be trusted to secure the interests of users, such as their privacy, over their interests, i.e. their revenue. The same kind of questions must be asked about search engines and advertising engines. On a personal level, the same kind of questions must be applied to the integrity of software engineers. Companies like Google can structure their business models to ensure any wrongdoing by employees is caught and any malicious coding is detected, but such efforts are never perfect. There is a need for professional integrity. This integrity can only be cultivated in employees through an environment that instills professionalism and strongly discourages immature impulses. It is something missing in the cultures of Google and other technology firms.
Read old posts