For the last two decades, the rise of Silicon Valley has coincided with tech’s rise to preeminence over all other industries and products. The industry has also served as the guiding light for how workplace cultures should be organized in order to maximize harmony, creativity, and productivity. Open office plans and in-office beer taps are now more or less taken for granted in modern offices, but they are only a very recent innovation that began in tech.
In recent years, however, voices from the rank and file within the tech industry, previously hidden within layers of bureaucracy but now empowered by the internet, have made it known that the bubbly and bright work culture we all associate with tech is more or less a facade, covering up a dark underbelly. Poor workplace conditions, shadow workforces, unfair pay, and sexual harassment scandals have bubbled to the surface, which has led the media to declare that tech has entered a “culture crisis.”
As with any case where we could point to the downtrodden masses speaking out against unfair treatment from an elite group, this “crisis” in tech foreshadows not the entry into a dark age for tech, but rather the unfolding of a renaissance. Professionals are rising up in every sector of the IT industry, making it known to corporate bosses that long hours, lack of diversity, and impersonal workplace conditions that have long defined the industry (despite the open office plans and ball pits) must be changed.
The solution, as is being discussed in tech circles around the world, is to build a new workplace culture for the industry, one that is based not solely on output and innovation but is also focused on diversity, inclusivity and dissolved-hierarchical boundaries. What’s needed, as tech workers and leaders the world over have been unequivocally demanding, is a tech industry in which more women and minorities are represented in leadership, and employees at all levels are able to freely voice concerns to industry leaders. In this way, the forward progress of the industry would become a collaborative, cooperative, inclusive project.
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