Examining the News

The lowdown on tech and workplace culture

Katie Center Brooks

07.14.16

Workplace culture is a hot topic, especially in the tech world. It’s the focus of hundreds of recruiting conferences and countless headlines in my LinkedIn feed. Dozens of consulting firms will help you build a better workplace culture, and whether you’re in tech or not, many of their lessons come from startups -- touted as agile and ultra-efficient in a time of sweeping digital change. 

 
So what’s all the fuss about? To get a better handle on the latest news and developments in workplace culture and tech in particular, I turned to Quid.


Quid gave me a quick overview of workplace culture news, then got more granular as I dug into a few aspects of startup culture.
 
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The rest of the country seems fascinated with Silicon Valley. In fact, the biggest chunk of a network of 599 recent news stories about workplace culture and tech was all about Silicon Valley trends. Those ranged from the big-risks-and-rewards culture at Tesla, to the famed startup culture skewered in the HBO show “Silicon Valley.” Organizations in every sector seem to be copying Silicon Valley culture, from Target to the Philadelphia Public School system. One story noted that workplace culture hasn’t actually changed much over the last 20 years, and another identified the 11 things “Back to the Future 2” got right about today’s tech culture. Not everyone is so quick to emulate or praise Silicon Valley; the cluster was also full of critiques of “bro-grammers” by feminist groups, journalists, and astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson.


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The second-largest cluster, focused on growth and recruiting, delved into stories about universities strategically positioning themselves for tech recruiting. Apparently on-campus tech incubators and accelerators are popping up around North America. It also grabbed articles related to other countries adopting startup culture, like Turkey (who knew?).


I then stopped at a cluster central to the network, Women and Sexual Harassment. Because the cluster is central, it shares language with all or most other clusters in the network. Arguably, Quid is telling us that issues with women and sexual harassment are fairly pervasive and touch many other aspects of tech and workplace culture. The sentiment in this cluster was also quite negative.

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In the Women and Sexual Harassment cluster, the stories enumerated barriers to creating a good workplace culture (consider: how is your CEO setting the tone for the company’s culture?), and tales of how the male-dominated tech industry is pushing women out. Interestingly, even some tech perks -- like Facebook and Apple’s offers to freeze female employees’ eggs -- are not always welcomed by women. Quid led me to the site Motherboard, where Victoria Turk argues that the solution shouldn’t be to freeze eggs, but rather to allow women time away from the office to have children at a normal age.  


Is tech culture perfect? Far from it. But it’s enough of a phenomenon that it’s being copied in a variety of industries and organizations, and for better or worse, there’s a growing conversation about it in popular culture too. The power of Quid is that it showed me all of this, including plenty I didn’t know, in a search that took just a few minutes.



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