Hey Apple and Google, It's Only Fair to Let Your Employees Get Poached

A no-poaching pact among the biggest Silicon Valley companies exposes an ugly elitism that keeps employees in chains, writes CIO.com's Tom Kaneshige.

Apple's Tim Cook scored a massive compensation package when he took the top spot, worth $378 million that included a promotion and retention award. Google's Eric Schmidt reportedly has a net worth of $7.5 billion. Intel's Paul Otellini made more than $17 million in 2011.

That's a mind-boggling amount of money, and these top executives probably negotiated pretty hard for such wealth. Companies no doubt paid out those sums because of the dog-eat-dog competition for executive talent in the tech space. Retention being the key word in Cook's whopping compensation package.

In other words, these big fish executives could go anywhere – even to a competitor.

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Now these three men have been ordered to submit to four hours of questioning for allegedly hindering employees' ability to leverage the open market and get the best compensation possible. A civil suit brought against Apple, Google, Intel and others charges that the companies formed an unwritten pact to not actively recruit each other's employees, reports AllThingsD.

The evidence includes a string of juicy emails.

This one is from Google's recruiting department: "Google has an agreement with Apple that we will not cold call their staff."

This one from Steve Jobs to Schmidt: "I would be very pleased if your recruiting department would stop doing this."

And this one from Schmidt to Google's recruiting department: "I believe we have a policy of no recruiting from Apple and this is a direct inbound request. Can you get this stopped and let me know why this is happening? I will need to send a response back to Apple quickly so please let me know as soon as you can."

Well, if the allegations prove to be true, then this just stinks.

We've always known there is frequently one set of rules for top executives and another set for everyone else. But exposing a secretive no-poaching pact among the biggest companies in Silicon Valley drives home the point.

It's the epitome of elitism.

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