In the last couple of years, it seems as if the tech industry has been engulfed in a sea of scandals. From discrimination cases to data breaches and more, many of the major tech companies are at the forefront of some of the world’s most controversial issues.
Last year, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to testify before the U.S. Congress because of the company’s data sharing during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Meanwhile, Google employees organised a walkout worldwide to protest the company’s handling of sexual misconduct cases, including the $US90 million exit package paid to Andy Rubin after being accused of sexual misconduct. Whatsapp on the other hand allowed misleading information, conspiracy theories and fake news about the 2018 Brazil presidential election to be shared on its platform, heavily influencing the election.
These serious scandals have resulted in some very negative consequences for these tech companies. For example, 1.8 million Australians deleted their Facebook accounts following the company’s scandal around the 2016 U.S. presidential election. On the other hand, the Australian government passed some of the world’s first laws that force tech companies like Whatsapp to help police access encrypted messages to fight crime.
While many Australians’ overall trust in these tech companies has fallen, how do Aussie job seekers feel about working for one?
We surveyed 500 Australian tech employees to see how these recent scandals have affected their attitudes about working for a tech company.
Most Australians are still interested in working for a tech company despite the scandals
Most Aussie tech job seekers (59%) reported that their interest in working for a tech company hasn’t changed. In fact, 24% of job seekers reported that they’re more interested in working for a tech company because of the scandals. Only 16% say these scandals make them less interested in working in the tech industry.
The stats change when we compare male tech workers with females. Australian women seem to be more drawn to tech companies because of these scandals than men. Of those surveyed, only 14% of women said they’re less interested in working for a tech company, compared to 17% of men. On the other hand, 25% of women said they are more interested in working for a tech company because of these scandals, while only 23% of men were more interested.
However, when job seekers are asked about working at a specific tech company with a recent scandal, their feelings change. Only 36% of Aussies are still interested in applying for a job with a company with a scandal.
When their company was involved in a scandal, most Australians did not leave
Surprisingly, most Aussies whose companies were involved in a scandal chose not to leave their job. In fact, only 23% reported leaving their tech job because their company was involved in a scandal. This is only slightly higher than the 20% of Aussies who reported they would leave if their company was involved in a scandal.
While more women are drawn to the tech industry because of recent scandals, when their company was actually involved in one, more women chose to leave. Of those whose companies were involved in a scandal, 30% of women chose to leave, compared to 20% of men. Interestingly, only 18% of women whose companies weren’t involved in a scandal said they would leave, compared to 22% of men. As a result, while more women hypothetically wouldn’t leave their company if there was a scandal, more women actually do end up leaving when a scandal does break out.
Gender-based scandals are most likely to drive Australian tech employees away
Australian tech employees are most likely to leave their company because of gender-based scandals such as sexual harassment or biases in hiring. In fact, 55% of those surveyed claimed they would be highly or somewhat likely to leave their job because of a gender-based scandal.
Right behind gender-based scandals are technology-based scandals such as data breaches or product failures. If a technology-based scandal broke out at their company, 41% of Aussies would be highly or somewhat likely to leave their job.
When it comes to political scandals such as company’s leader expressing controversial political views, or making controversial campaign contributions, less Aussies are inclined to leave. Only 30% of those surveyed reported they would be highly or somewhat likely to leave their job if a political scandal broke out.
Transparency is important to Australian tech employees
Not surprisingly, accountability and transparency are both very important to Aussie tech workers. In fact, if their organisation is quick to respond to a public scandal, 87% of Australians are more likely to stay at their job. The same goes for transparency. If a tech company is transparent about a public scandal and their attempts to correct it, then 83% of Australians are more likely to stay at their job.
Given Australia’s reputation as a direct and straightforward nation, it’s no surprise that they want their tech employers to also be outspoken about any scandals within the organisation. In fact, 62% of Aussie tech workers form their opinions about their company and industry based on internal communications from senior leadership. This is the greatest influence on Aussie’s perceptions of their tech company. Other important influences include word of mouth (57%) and online reviews from current and former employees (52%). Surprisingly, media or press coverage only influences 49% of tech employees.
Despite the scandals, Australians still think tech companies are ethical
Even though overall trust in tech companies has declined in Australia, tech job seekers in the country think differently. When asked if they think tech companies are ethical, 56% of respondents said yes. The number changes slightly with men (59%) than women (50%), but overall, more than half of Aussie job seekers think tech companies are still ethical.
However, most believe tech companies need more regulations. Of those surveyed, 62% said tech companies need more regulations. This number drastically changes between male and female employees. Only 57% of men believe tech companies need more regulations, while 71% of women believe more regulations are needed.
Some organisations have already taken a cue from our respondents when they found themselves in the middle of a scandal. For example, in 2011, Japanese optics and instrument manufacturer Olympus found itself in a US$1.7 billion fraud scandal. It almost destroyed the company, causing 82% of its share value to be wiped out in only a month’s time.
However, following the scandal, the company began implementing strong rules and regulations for its employees and board members to follow. For example, the company set regulations to ensure most board members are external members. Additionally, the organisation has taken steps to ensure all auditors are external and not linked to any board members. This has resulted in the company once again flourishing and thriving, despite the damage from the scandal.
While most Australian tech employees are still interested in working for a tech company despite the scandals, they also believe tech companies need to take accountability when things go wrong. As tech employers, it’s important for us to be transparent in order to continue earning the trust and respect of job seekers and the general public alike.
Methodology: Indeed partnered with Censuswide to survey 500 workers in the technology industry in Australia in December 2018 and January 2019.