How the tech industry soured on employee activism

How the tech industry soured on employee activism
When social justice protests swept the country in 2020, tech companies mostly welcomed employee activism. The Gaza demonstrations are getting a much different reception

Zoë Schiffer, writing for Platformer (subscription required)

It’s no accident that declining tolerance for employees’ political speech has coincided with the tech industry’s self-described era of efficiency. As companies continue to conduct mass layoffs, and the hiring process remains slow and arduous, employers have more leverage than at any time since the pandemic began.

As you'd expect from a reporter like Zoë, an excellent little piece on the recent trend of companies adopting a "no politics at work" policy. In it, she hits on a lot of points I'd agree with, particularly

  • It sounds like a good policy on paper
  • It's probably a touch naive to assume people can leave their politics at the door given how much it impacts their life

Even in the full piece which is paywalled, she doesn't really touch on one element, which is that "no politics at work" policies are frequently perceived as "the leadership disagrees with your politics, so shut up worker bee". Whether that's always accurate I couldn't say, but I know I've experienced workplaces where those policies were announced after leadership was criticised for expressing beliefs that were extremely conservative.

Regardless, it's likely no coincidence these policies started to occur as the tech sector's recruitment boom was winding down.