The leading right-of-center technology group in Silicon Valley released its pilot survey of roughly 400 high-tech employees regarding the openness to political diversity in the northern California technology enclave.
“This survey is just the starting point for a broader national conversation Lincoln Network is facilitating to improve work environments, which in turn improves company profitability,” said Garrett Johnson, co-founder and executive director of Lincoln Network.
“By treating employees with tolerance and respecting differing viewpoints, this allows employees to be more fully invested in their team,” Johnson said.
“Most surprising was the consensus across the political spectrum that there is a real ‘fire’ when it comes to this issue in tech,” he told Big League Politics. “Specifically, the liberal bias in tech companies and efforts to silence, to the extent that even 30 percent of very liberal people are hesitant to engage.”
Johnson said the poll shows even left-leaning respondents understand the hostile atmosphere for conservatives in Silicon Valley.
“It provides initial data to prove that most people are open to having an honest conversation about this fire, if given the chance and not silenced by fear of the screaming mobs on the left or right ends of the spectrum,” he said.
“Now the question is can leaders at tech companies step up?,” he said.
“It’s going to be difficult because they are hesitant “firefighters”, based on their performance so far, and some would argue they are also arsons when it comes to enabling greater tribalization in our democracy via the platforms they have built,” he said.
The most disturbing discovery was how Google’s response to James Damore’s “Diversity Memo” has already discouraged openness, according to the poll’s summary.
“Last year, Google condemned and fired Damore, a senior software engineer, after the viral public response to his internally-published memo,” the summary said.
In January, Damore filed a lawsuit against Google claiming that the company discriminates against white males and conservatives.
“Damore is now suing Google for bias. When we asked our survey respondents if Google’s response has made them more or less comfortable sharing ideological viewpoints with colleagues, 47 percent replied: ‘less,'” the poll summary said.
Another finding from the survey was that technology workers that are right-of-center workers felt “less than comfortable” at work: 70 percent of self-identified very conservative respondents, 64 percent of conservatives and 66 percent of libertarians.
Forty-six of self-described moderates said they felt less than comfortable.
Johnson said the hostile atmosphere for conservatives in Silicon Valley was somewhat like the hostility they face on college campuses, but different.
“Somewhat, but there is less organic informal interaction in the workplace because people aren’t forced to live together. Less opportunities for trust to be organically built,” he said.
Moving forward, Johnson said the Lincoln Network is working solutions for conservatives in Silicon Valley. “TBD.”
In the meantime, he said they need to keep to their truth.
“We are working on thoughtful recommendations we can offer. Overall, be authentic. On a spectrum of silence to soapbox, each approach will be unique.”
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