Google updated their community guidelines to discourage political debates within their platforms, and instead focus only on work topics. The updated policy is viewed as a shift from a culture encouraging Google employees to challenge and debate each other.
- Why should or shouldn’t the workplace be an opportunity for employees to debate political, social, and economic issues?
- Do Google’s new community guidelines limit freedom of speech for employees?
- What is the right balance for an organizational culture when it comes to topics about the political and social environment in which a business exists?
- Google has been under pressure for alleged political bias. In the past, Google encouraged employees to organize and discuss controversial issues, but this policy has landed them in trouble with different groups and the media.
- In 2016, Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin stated how he found the current administration’s immigration policy “deeply offensive,” which added to the allegations of bias.
- Google will implement a “central flagging tool” in which employees can report inappropriate comments, identifying employees who violate the new policy for disciplinary action.
Google has been at the center of several front-page news stories. The largest employee walkout occurred after employees discovered how executives accused of sexual harassment were protected or given large sums of money to leave.
Employees have also petitioned Google executives to end projects such as Project Maven (using artificial intelligence software to enhance U.S. military drones) and Project Dragonfly (developing a censored search engine in China). Google did halt both projects, but both were unknown by the public until employees made their public statements. Google’s new policy now prohibits discussing internal projects outside of the company.
Google’s new community policy essentially states that employees should focus on work-related conversations only and keep discussions on work projects within the company boundaries. Both are a cultural shift for Google.