by George Nott

Want to attract top tech talent? Have a corporate scandal

Feb 26, 2019
Business IntelligenceCareersCloud Computing

Just under a quarter of technology workers say they are particularly drawn to jobs at companies that have been embroiled in a scandal such as privacy breaches or sexual harassment allegations.

A recent survey of 500 Australian tech workers found the view was most commonly held by respondents aged between 24 and 35, 30 per cent of which said that controversy at a company increased their interest in working in technology roles there.

However, overall, 44 per cent of respondents to the Indeed commissioned survey said they would be less interested in working at a company that had been directly involved in a scandal.

The results varied significantly depending on the workers age, career length, size of workplace, and the subject of the controversy.

Respondents aged 55 and over were most likely to be deterred in applying for a job at a specific company that had been involved in scandal (73 per cent), while only 39 per cent of respondents aged 45-54 felt the same way.

The younger the respondent, the more likely they are to consider switching industries altogether as a result of the scandals, with 43 per cent of 16 to 24 year olds having contemplated this, compared to only 17 per cent of all respondents.

More than half of early career tech workers (who have worked in tech up to three years) said they’d be less interested in jobs at companies with scandalous histories, more than the average.

A third of respondents currently working for large organisations said they would be more interested to work at a company that had experienced a scandal, while only eight per cent of those working at SMEs agreed.

Overall, 21 per cent of respondents say they would leave their company if it were to be involved in any type of public scandal. However, almost 9 in 10 agreed that if management were to act quickly and transparently in mitigating against the issue, they would be likely to stay.

“Recent misconduct in the tech industry has shone a light on ethical and privacy concerns in the sector. While most tech professionals haven’t been put off working in the industry, it’s up to companies to ensure they have the public and their employees’ interests at heart,” says Ricky Fritsch, managing director of Australia at Indeed.

There have been no shortage of data breaches by Australian firms over the last year, and the technology sector is continuously mired in accusations of sexism, racism and corporate misbehaviour.

The type of scandal made a difference to respondents. The scandals found to have the greatest impact on driving employees away were gender-based such as sexual harassment and bias in hiring, with 56 per cent of respondents stating they would likely leave their job if such a scandal were to occur at their company.

Technology-based scandals – such as data breaches and product failures – were also negatively perceived among tech workers, with 41 per cent saying they’d walk if one occurred at their workplace.

In the face of growing calls to better regulate the technology industry and impose more stringent ethical guidelines, 62 per cent of technology workers questioned in the survey said that they need to be more tightly regulated.

Almost half (46 per cent) of respondents say they would now be more likely to report misbehavior and data breaches than last year.

“It’s a good sign for the future of the technology sector that the majority of workers recognise a need for greater regulation. Positive change is typically most effective when it’s embraced by those working within the sector,” Fritsch added.