In recent weeks, uproar over Silicon Valley’s alleged bias against conservatives has intensified—from Project Veritas secretly filming Twitter employees to fired Google engineer James Damore suing his former employer for allegedly discriminating against whites, males, and conservatives at a company that is 69 percent white and 56 percent male.
Now Lincoln Network, a right-leaning political group for tech workers, wants to enter the fray as a voice of reason—armed with data.
“I think everyone agrees that this topic is not going away,” says Lincoln Network cofounder Garrett Johnson, a former Rhodes Scholar who sold his Y Combinator-backed messaging startup in 2016. Johnson says Lincoln Network wants to “constructively engage in this conversation,” in hopes of improving the work environment at tech companies.
Over the past couple of months, Lincoln Network conducted an online survey of 387 employees of companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Uber, and Salesforce, plus one-on-one interviews with 23 respondents who agreed to speak anonymously. Respondents volunteered to take the survey after seeing the link online or on internal forums at companies like Google.
The survey found employees who identify as conservative or very conservative are increasingly uncomfortable at work. Two-thirds or more of respondents who describe themselves as libertarian, conservative or very conservative say they feel less comfortable sharing their ideological views with colleagues since Google fired Damore in August. But only 30 percent of liberals and 14 percent of people who say they are very liberal feel that way.
Johnson says he hopes the survey sparks a broader conversation about ideological tolerance in the workplace. Employers should care because if conservatives feel like they can’t bring their “whole self” to work that could affect performance, he says, referencing a popular mantra in the tech industry, which has been usually supportive of free expression in the workplace.
The results represent an incredibly narrow self-selecting sample of tech workers. The subset of “very conservative” employees, for instance, encompasses just 20 individuals.
However, respondents were fairly well dispersed across the ideological spectrum. The largest subset, 24 percent, identified as libertarian; 17.6 percent identified as conservative, 5.2 percent identified as very conservative, 16.3 percent identified as moderate, 18.3 percent identified as liberal, and 11.1 percent as very liberal.
The survey did not ask which views respondents felt were being silenced. Johnson says conservative tech workers have told him they feel uncomfortable discussing traditional views of marriage or family. “The issue of cultural norms when it comes to family and sexual orientation, those are difficult conversations, they are just intensified in the Bay Area,” Johnson says.
One Salesforce employee who participated in the survey, but did not want to be named, says he didn’t vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election for fear it might hurt his career if it became known. “I have trouble believing that they would be able to make a rational decision about that person’s promotion or career growth or endorsement of that person,” knowing that the person voted for Trump, he says. A Salesforce spokesperson says, “Voting is a private matter. However, Salesforce is proud to have 30,000 employees who bring a diverse set of views and perspectives to our workplace.”
Mike Wacker, a Google software engineer who did not respond to the survey, says being a Republican at a tech company feels similar to being a Republican in college. “In both environments, you’re often the token Republican, and Republicans are deeply unpopular,” he says. “But I felt more comfortable as a Republican in college than I feel now as a Republican in tech.”
The survey also asked about sharing viewpoints “in a casual work context, if the subject of politics or culture were raised.” Sixty percent of the very conservative group said they would “never” share their views, compared to just 4.7 percent of very liberals. Aside from very conservative employees, roughly 40 percent of the other groups said they would decide whether to share a viewpoint based on the issue and their perception of others’ views.
The Lincoln Network survey was framed as a questionnaire about “viewpoint diversity,” a fraught term favored for years by conservatives that has enjoyed a resurgence in Silicon Valley. Mark Zuckerberg invoked the importance of a diversity of viewpoints when Facebook was pressured to remove Peter Thiel from its board of directors after he donated to Trump’s campaign. Damore also used the term in his memo, although his views on whether women are less biologically predisposed to become engineers was not explicitly a political argument.
Ellen Pao, one of the cofounders of Project Include, a nonprofit that advises tech companies about making their workplace more welcoming, says the use of the term “diversity” to describe views like Damore’s can confuse the issue, particularly within the tech industry, which has become as polarized as the tech platforms they operate. The majority group, “who have had the ability to say whatever they want for so long,” are now feeling marginalized and censored,” says Pao. “It’s interesting to see how unpleasant they find it.”
Johnson, however, argues that companies that champion tolerance should also prioritize making conservatives feel welcome, particularly because some of the divisiveness in political discourse stems from platforms built by Silicon Valley. Johnson, who grew up going to a predominantly black church and went to a Southern Baptist high school, says, there needs to be a way “to understand how to navigate those more challenging conversations.”
© 2018 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.
You may be interested
Ross in Friends predicted Black Mirror episode ‘San Junipero’ 16 years before it airedFrank - May 29, 2019
Frank's source: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/black-mirror-charlie-brooker-season-4-friends-predicted-san-junipero-episode-uss-callister-a7988111.html
Strictly Come Dancing 2017 week 3 recap: The claws are out on the judging tableFrank - May 29, 2019
Frank's source: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/strictly-come-dancing-2017-latest-movie-week-craig-revel-horwood-joe-mcfadden-a7988471.html
Uber’s Self-Driving Car Just Killed Somebody. Now What?Frank - May 29, 2019
Read more about the effects of this crash a year later, right here At about 10 pm on Sunday evening,…