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Politics are tearing tech companies apart, says new survey

3 2 10
28.02.2019

Silicon Valley lends itself to political stereotypes–called overly progressive by conservatives and overly conservative by progressives. A new survey of 1,924 tech workers around the US indicates that neither view is quite right, but why both are so prominent.

In the poll of workers across the tech industry, conducted by survey company Morning Consult and commissioned by the conservative-leaning non-profit Lincoln Network, about a quarter of respondents identified as having very strong views (14% left, 11% right). A third called themselves moderate, and equal shares (18% each) identified as mainstream liberal or conservative. Just 3% identified as Libertarian, challenging a stereotype of tech bro culture.

Among those surveyed, forty-five percent say that their company promotes a political agenda. That leaning tends to be toward the left, with 48 percent of respondents saying their company has a clear liberal agenda, as opposed to the 38 percent who reported a conservative agenda.

[Image: courtesy of Lincoln Network]Whether they agree or disagree with their company’s politics, fear about ideological conflicts with colleagues runs across all political groups: very liberal, liberal, moderate, conservative, very conservative, and libertarian.

Nearly half of employees at companies with political agendas said their ideological views impacted their ability to work. At companies perceived to have a political agenda, 63 percent of workers said that ridicule in the workplace is commonplace if you disagree with a colleague, while only 21 percent said that happens at their apolitical companies.

Two thirds of participants worked at privately-held tech companies, and a third at publicly traded ones. Among the biggest companies were Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Dell, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Salesforce, Samsung, and Twitter. Among those who took part, 84% percent worked in a technical role, seventy-five percent identified as male, and 49% were between 30 and 44 years old.

[Image: courtesy of Lincoln Network]Lincoln leans conservative: Its leaders have been active in Republican politics, and they launched the survey effort in 2017 “to collect data on potential anti-conservative bias in Silicon Valley.” Still, it claims to have no influence on the data itself. “Morning Consult, as an independent party, collected all of the quantitative data,” says Lincoln co-founder Garrett Johnson, who worked for Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana.

Related: How tech workers became activists, leading a resistance movement that is shaking up Silicon Valley

Lincoln also conducted an online survey of a few dozen tech workers to solicit opinions and anecdotes, similar to its contentious survey from 2017-2018. Some of those quotes pepper Lincoln’s report on the Morning Consult survey. “I am happy, with the exception of my time at work where I feel like the choices I have made in my beliefs label me as stupid, a bigot, deplored, and more…” one anonymous tech worker wrote. “I am coming to the........

© Fast Company