I should start by saying how much I love and use Google products. I’m hooked enough that I am seriously considering a Google phone as my next near-term purchase. The stories to which I refer and their corresponding alleged ethical breaches are, therefore, ticking me off.
Google stands accused on paying women less than men for doing the same work. Google denies it.*
We do not propose to judge Google. The mere mention of such an arcane practice, especially in light of Google’s progressive reputation, is sort of, well, stunning. As the indirect and direct victim of unequal pay practices, I hope the truth outs quickly.** Meanwhile, how this news must make squirm the beneficiaries of Google’s political donations, most of whom proclaim the doctrines of progressivism.
As if to add spice to an already too-hot-to-eat dish of ethical quandary, Google was on 60 Minutes, which is almost never good. In that piece, investigators claim Google engineers apps that reformat peoples’ brains to check the app every few minutes; not unlike how tobacco companies increased the addictive qualities of cigarettes to reformat peoples’ brains to crave a smoke every few minutes.
Though we cannot say that apps cause lung or mouth cancer, heart disease or malformed babies like cigs do, we also cannot say that app addiction is a good thing, can we? Nor can we offer an ethics award to someone who plays such mind games. To be fair, Facebook, Snap!, and a host—dare we say all with access to behavioral data—join Google is their masterminding of unwary minds.
But the biased pay thing. Please, no.
Questions for The Ethics Award
- How does your organization make different pay grades for doing the same work impossible?
- How do you help managers and other people in powerful positions avoid playing mind games with people who report to them?
- Fairness is tricky. Everyone thinks they behave with fairness toward all right up to the time they’re proven unfair. How do you know you’re fair?
* Source: www.seekingalpha.com, 10 Apr 2017.
** When I was a kid, my mother was paid less than men who did the same work. Later, my wife was similarly underpaid. In between, I, too, was once paid less than other boys doing the same work, though that was because of family politics and not gender.