Never mind ‘Don’t be evil’; How about ‘Do good’

Since 2000 ‘Don’t be evil’ was the overriding principal of Google’s corporate code of conduct. It was changed to ‘Do the right thing’ by AI specialist firm Alphabet; Google’s new parent company, during 2015.

However, adoption of ‘Do the right thing’ was slow and Google has been embroiled in several high profile corporate conduct scandals.

siteAssets positive reward theory at work

siteAssets positive reward theory at work

Non-payment or avoidance of corporation tax across Europe recently lead Google to pay a £259m tax settlement bill. Italian authorities received the payment and halted a criminal investigation. Philip Hammond announced a crack-down on tax avoidance by digital giants in his autumn statement of 2017, specifically naming Google and Facebook.

Google eventually revealed gender pay gap figures after considerable pressure from government and the media. Female Google employees in the UK earn on average 17% less than men as regards salaried pay, and 43% less than men in bonus payments. Google has said that like-for-like roles show no gender pay bias, which unfortunately leads on to the next point.

Perhaps most shamefully, because it was in direct conflict with ‘Do the right thing’, Google employee James Damore posted a 10-page memo on an internal message board stating that: women were less suited to engineering than men because biologically they are pre-disposed to neurosis. The comments led to his high-profile sacking in 2017, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai defended the decision saying that it “was about ensuring women at Google felt like the company was committed to creating a welcoming environment.”

Google introduced new corporate conduct guidelines in May 2018. Pichai warned employees in July that if they behaved badly online they could be disciplined, demoted, and even fired.

The new corporate conduct code states that when communicating Google Values should be kept in mind, namely respect of the user, the opportunity and of each other. The codes go on to encourage staff to keep Google a safe, productive and inclusive environment for everyone. Further; any discussions that make Googlers feel like they do not belong, have no place at Google. Lastly employees are warned about the reach of their words – specifically “Your actions on our corporate systems leave a footprint and may be discoverable in court or shared externally without your permission.”

But, there is a problem with conduct codes in general.

As any manager, parent, coach, teacher or mentor will know punitive only does not work.

We live in a reward society.

You work hard for an exam – you get a higher grade, you train for a race, you improve your time.

This might explain why ‘Don’t be evil’ was not enough. From a mentor’s perspective ‘Do the right thing’ still falls short on several counts…

  1. It is not explicit.
  2. It is punitive.
  3. It is without example, it does not describe the positive behaviours that are required.
  4. It does not state how ‘good behaviour’ will be rewarded.

The management and leadership style it is autocratic or telling.

Where an organisation has a culture and behavioural challenge, other leadership styles such as selling (democratic) and coaching, supporting and paternalistic would produce fast and lasting behavioural shifts.

When it comes to positive reward theory and paternalistic leadership styles; the work of child psychiatry and psychology professor Alan Kazdin provides much insight.

The principal of positive reward theory is that ‘Do the right thing’ would evolve into ‘Do good’ supported by examples of good behaviour in the workplace. And good behaviours would be rewarded, more time doing ‘fun projects’ or perhaps attending a cookery class, funded by the employer. Visibility of positive reward theory can galvanise teams and cascade learning quickly.

For many the biggest hurdle for positive reward theory is flipping the negative behaviour to show the positive behaviour that is required in the workplace.

Here are some examples:

  • Thou shalt not kill – Save lives
  • Don’t shout – Speak quietly even when sad, angry or disappointed
  • Do not troll – Show support for good ideas, comments or campaigns
  • Be respectful – Show consideration to others, treating them how you like to be treated

Of course, behavioural change very often happens bottom-up or from within. Google employees recently pressured the company not to work on military projects. Goole CEO Sundar Pichai promised Googlers that the company would never help the military to build artificially intelligent weapons.

If you are this side of the pond (near Blighty) and need help changing behaviour at work contact our good friends careerbalance on: 020 3051 1054.

Google News pledges £107m to publishers over next three years

So Google News is in the news again, this time Google has pledged £107m to European publishers and news start-ups. As well as offering funding Google staff will be sharing knowledge with journalists on how to publish content so that it gets indexed correctly by Google.

What’s the point?

Well..

…if the ethos is that the best news is that which comes up in your search results, how do publishers fund that news, and make sure it’s indexed properly?

‘Ethical’ and well researched news doesn’t come for free, it’s written by experts who have niche knowledge. And if Google News want to stand out from Social Media as credible, and business orientated then they can’t go down the ‘most talked about’ route. ‘Most talked about’ might mean gossip or rumour, anyway it is unsubstantiated – sure it may be breaking news but it hasn’t been qualified yet. And until that journo is on the ground speaking to the authorities as well as eye witnesses who’s to say it’s true.

As regards Google compliance and the indexing of content, this takes different skills to that of journalism. There is a fine balance to be struck between a snappy headline and one that will make sense to the user that is seeking news or information. The blend of the dark art of SEO, not to mention responsive content, and intelligently written prose is the Editor’s daily challenge.

The move again highlights Google’s differentiation from other news sources, the recent partnership with Twitter emphasises a preference for trade, industry or business news as opposed to consumer-led interest.

Is there money in it?

Yes, businesses want to share their news, and speak directly to their clients or share holders – and not just from a pitching perspective. Business owners have sector knowledge and industry insight – who better to share news. And as traditional marketing continues to flag from cold calling to trade events, establishing credibility and therefore referral and recommendation has to be a more effective way to sell. And if the business sells ancillary products or services, advertising against relevant news in the right ‘section’ or ‘channel’ so that potential customers will understand the business proposition is  acost effective way to promote and position the product or service.

Reassuring too that the Financial Times, the Guardian and Die Zeit have joined the Google News foundation. It shows that regardless of history and credibility future proofing the freedom of the press is hard to do without funding or the support of Google.

Twitter dumps LinkedIn – Ouch!

Twitter has ended its three-year partnership with LinkedIn, showing that LinkedIn always needed Twitter a whole lot more than Twitter needed LinkedIn. Why is this? Because LinkedIn lacks Social Media buzz, it’s a flat as Friends Reunited, and the end of this partnership means that LI may be headed that way too.

Why the partnership was so great for linkedIn; explained from an internet marketing perspective:

  • LinkedIn made Tweets visible in Google search results by publishing LinkedIn member news (in the form of individual Tweets) on their site;
  • This meant they were able to attract lots of professional users to their site;
  • This is why when you looked at what people [used to] search for before they arrived on the LinkedIn site you could see users searched on trade news items/hot topics (eg iPhone);
  • This was a bit of a coup considering that LinkedIn is not (and was not) an original news owner or publisher. In addition almost all (98%) of the traffic they got from their audience’s shared news and LinkedIn brand name searches was natural (organic or SEO) search traffic – which means that it was free!
  • So for three years LinkedIn overtook trade news owners from Brand Republic to the Guardian and also jobs boards growing their audience to over 4m unique visitors a month – that’s a lot. But now without visibility of all that trade news in the form of Tweets
And without…
Five months grace from 21 Feb* when LinkedIn member Tweets were still be published on LinkedIn and so were still being made visible by Google…
Now we (marketers, recruiters and jobseekers alike) need to look for some alternatives!
*Twitter shut Google out (21 Feb 2012) by partnering with Google’s biggest rival Yandex effectively bringing down an iron curtain on Google and its access to Twitter functionality and Tweet visibility in search results.

What this means for you as a jobseeker:

Think about your professional online brand, if you haven’t set up a Twitter account do it, and do it now. Check your privacy settings on Facebook and what you are saying during work hours. You are entitled to a social life, but consider having a professional Facebook account, one that you’d be happy to show a prospective employer. Whilst you are on Facebook check our BranchOut it is LinkedIn’s biggest threat. Based on what you do on Facebook and what you have put on your profile, you can connect with like-minded professionals on Facebook. Remember what’s visible on Facebook is down to you and your privacy settings, the BranchOut app is great – give it a go. Never share your Social Media logins. Do give yourself the best chance of getting hired.

What this means for you as a recruiter/hiring manager/HR professional/marketer:

If LinkedIn don’t start to pay to attract a trade reader (professional) audience the quality and volume of traffic hitting (and staying) on their site will fall. Check out BranchOut on Facebook, the app leverages a Facebook user’s network connections and has sophisticated likes and preferences data behind it. You are more likely to find talented professionals via this app.

What this means for LinkedIn:

They need to hire some skilled digital marketers!

For more web-savvy tips visit siteAssets, we run Social Media Recruitment workshops at a very reasonable price.

Good luck peeps.