Why tech is taking on Trump with CSR
There’s no doubt that Trump started his administration with a bang. Controversy surrounds everything that he does. But when he placed a temporary immigration ban on seven, mostly-Muslim, countries, the Goliath’s of the technology world spoke up in protest.
Tech takes a stand
The open letter co-authored by the likes of Google and Apple protested the executive order, more than 1,800 IBM employees signed a petition condemning CEO Ginni Romerty’s support of Trump. The industry is taking clear and specific action to ensure that its opinion is heard. And when tech workers took to the streets of Silicon Valley with placards that read “We are all immigrants”, they clearly communicated the damage that the ban could do to the tech industry – and America as a whole.
It’s a political issue, being taken on by members of the increasingly powerful technology industry. But whilst for many, the question is simply whether you’re on the Tech vs Trump bandwagon or not, there are different issues at play. Talking to CNBC, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the protest is conflating two separate issues: immigration policy with respect to seven countries; and immigration policies for high-skilled workers who are both desirable and important to big tech firms.
While the boundaries of the debate may be ambiguous, one thing is crystal clear: the tech industry is politically aware and has made a conscious decision to prioritise corporate social responsibility (CSR).
The Internet has played a huge role in formalising CSR and establishing it as an important agenda point for the c-suite of technology companies. Consumers have become more conscientious. Freedom of information means that evidence of questionable practises can now be exposed in quick, startling detail, to a potentially huge audience via social media. Corporations needed to toe the line. Grandiose gestures, which whiffed of CSR for CSR’s sake were suddenly commonplace – the Volkswagen case, whereby the automaker systematically banged the drum of its supposedly eco-friendly cars while secretly poisoning the planet, springs to mind. However, as inauthentic strategies were uncovered and spread across the web, CSR could no longer be a publicity stunt. It needed to become its lifeblood, flowing through every part of an organisation.
The likes of Unilever are leading the way with its comprehensive sustainability strategy. But technology companies are taking it to the next level – political activism.
Macro-economic and political shifts have all dealt serious blows to consumer confidence. What tech companies are increasingly recognising is that they can – and should – be leveraging their growing power to help alleviate mass insecurity.
Technology is no longer an exclusive club, we have bridged the adoption gap as sophisticated technology lines our pockets, and people become smarter with their data. The growth of apps like My Data Manager and GDPR enforcement coming into effect, will improve this. The distribution of tech – and trust – is evening out.
Trump’s closed borders are an emblem for everything that the tech community stands against. The tech community’s demonstrations are truthful and echo the current industry zeitgeist. Sharing and learning from each other in a responsible, honest way is the universal driver.
Tech companies don’t need to look outwards to actively find ways to develop trust, addressing micro issues is key too. We strive to provide exceptional services at Wirehive, but we also seek to educate more broadly wherever possible. That could mean helping teach children about cyber security or just being honest with our clients about the cost of downtime.
The conflict at the intersection of tech and security is not new, and is likely to continue. Consider the 2013 Edward Snowden leaks during Obama’s administration. However, the tech community has shifted to be a more collaborative unit that considers CSR a necessity. Activism comes before aesthetics, and this is something we can all contribute to.