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Google's Finding Out Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is Harder Than It Looks...

In case you missed it, Google is considering going back to China and launching a censored search engine.  The news is full of coverage of Google employees protesting the move, primary by signing an online letter that's been initialed/signed by 1400 Google employees.

The protest is pretty obvious - In the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times, employees wrote that the project and Google’s apparent willingness to abide by China’s censorship requirements “raise urgent moral and ethical issues.” They added, “Currently we do not have the information required to make ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment.”

Just take a look at this google news search and you'll see what the coverage is - the protesters get most of the ink.  But the true picture of employee sentiment is harder to define than the noise level of protesters.

While the protesters inside Google organize, the silent majority isn't following suit.  As this chart from Statista shows, 65% of the 472 polled are in favor of the company's reversed position.   What's interesting is the 64% of the tech community at large supports the protesters, but 65% of the employees inside Google supports the move to China.

This is why Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is so hard for companies to get their arms around.  Google's taking a PR hit via the protestors inside it's own company, but the super majority of their employee base supports going to China.

You could argue it either way.  Censorship-bad.  Good technology? Might open things up even with a censorship layer.

In any event, HR leaders like us have to be cautious in thinking that a loud group of employees represents everyone.  The Google chart below shows us the reality that is often the case.  (email subscribers, click through for the shot if you don't see it below)

Google and china



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