How Many Technologists Actually Protest Their Employers’ Policies?

Netflix is just the latest tech giant to face employee protests over a particular position or policy. This week, a group of trans and non-binary employees at the streaming giant organized a walkout in response to Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer,” a standup comedy show in which the comedian made statements perceived as offensive to the LGBTQA+ community.  

Whether or not the Netflix protest changes the company’s policy, it raises some questions about broader activism within the tech industry. One big question: How many technologists are participating in protests against their companies’ policies? Blind, which anonymously surveys technologists about a range of issues, recently posed that very question; the following data is based on responses from 4,800 professionals at 26 companies:    

What can we conclude from this? While protestors tend to be vocal (and make headlines), they’re a very small percentage of most companies’ overall workforces, especially at giants such as Microsoft and Tesla. But in a note accompanying the data, Blind suggests that the prevalence of collaboration tools is making it much easier for employees to organize.  

“The ubiquity of technology, including laptops, home internet access and workplace collaboration apps, made work away from employer-controlled physical spaces possible,” the note added. “Now, it may also be enabling activism, as workers can now organize amongst themselves with greater ease and without the risk of management walking by the water cooler, lunchroom or desk.” 

Over the past few years, employees at various tech companies have protested over everything from endemic sexual harassment to diversity issues to military contracts. For example, employees at game-maker Blizzard recently walked out in response to the company’s handling of workplace harassment claims. Google, Amazon and Microsoft have all faced internal pushback over military and government contracts that some employees viewed as immoral. Netflix is just the latest company to face an uprising; it surely won’t be the last.