Apple employee activism shifts the balance of power

By on October 1, 2021 0

Apple employee activism is shifting the balance of power within the company, suggests a report released today. He says more employees are willing to speak out on issues that concern them – such as pay disparities – and feel more protected than in the past.

The evidence presented is mixed, but it does indicate that there has been at least some change in the culture of secrecy within the company …

The edge’s Zoe Schiffer covers labor issues rather than Apple in particular, but in recent months she has become the go-to person for Apple employees who want to speak out about company policies and practices. .

The title of his latest article – “Apple’s Fortress of Secrecy Collapsing from Within” – is of course hyperbolic, but it seems reasonable to conclude that a growing number of Cupertino-based company employees are ready to talk about issues that concern them. .

The article mainly summarizes what has happened over the past five months, including the reaction to Apple’s return-to-office announcements.

Cook had announced that after a difficult year of remote work, Apple was reopening its offices. Starting in September, employees would be asked to return to work in person three days a week, with the option to work from home on Wednesdays and Fridays. […]

The tension could have remained low without a Slack channel – # remote-work-advocacy – created in September 2020 to promote a more flexible work environment. By the summer of 2021, it had grown to around 2,800 members, with conversations becoming increasingly heated. After Cook made his announcement, employees knew they had to send a message. It was a little nudge against management that would lay the groundwork for months of employee organization and perhaps change Apple’s workforce forever.

He argues that Apple’s famous product development secret had been extended to almost every aspect of the company’s operations, with employees afraid to speak publicly about any issue – but it is happening. to change.

“There’s a shift in the balance of power going on here,” says Jason Snell, the former editor of Macmonde, who has been covering Apple since the 1990s. “Not everyone is afraid that their boss at Apple will fire them. They say, ‘I’m going to speak badly of Apple, and if you object to me, it’ll be bad for you.’ “

Part of the change is because the tech giant is two years away from a radical new experiment: using Slack. Where Apple employees previously worked in ultra-siled teams with few opportunities to meet people outside of their current project or department, they now have a way to communicate with anyone in the company. Employees have discovered that individual grievances at work are shared by people in entirely different parts of Apple.

One of the things revealed by this greater openness was the apparent examples of pay gaps between men and women, which Apple says is not happening within the company.

Admittedly, there appears to be a gap between the claims of the iPhone maker and its actions in this area.

Although the company specifically says that its policies “should not be interpreted as restricting your right to speak freely about your pay, hours or working conditions”, the reality is that there is a strong expectation that internal problems remain internal.

When an unofficial internal salary survey revealed a 6% gap between male and female employees, Apple’s response was to end the investigation.

The extent to which speaking out is successful is unclear. One success story was the controversial hiring of Antonio Garcia Martinez, who wrote a book in which he described the women of Silicon Valley as gentle, weak, naive and titled. Employees demanded that he be removed from his post and Apple subsequently fired him.

Other examples cited by Schiffer have been less successful. In one case, of a woman who felt she was significantly underpaid compared to her less experienced male colleagues, her application was rejected and she resigned. In another case, an employee who spoke very publicly about workplace concerns was fired.

She concludes that while there has been a change, it is not known to what extent that change will be permanent. Only a small minority of employees have spoken, and many more think secrecy is part of the deal at Apple, and if you’re not happy, you shouldn’t be working on it.

What is your opinion? Should employees be free to voice concerns about issues unrelated to product development, or should secrecy extend to how the company treats its employees? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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