Back in November 2016, I wrote about the \u201cmixed signals\u201d tech companies were sending in response to the presidential election. How GrubHub\u2019s then-CEO Matt Maloney quickly and forcefully spoke out against bigotry and hatred, and how IBM\u2019s Ginny Rometty went instead for a strategy of appeasement.\nI\u2019ve also written about the tech industry\u2019s failures to consider their moral and ethical responsibility to ensure technology is used to create a more just, equal, and safe society. And I\u2019ve called for software engineers to adopt a code of ethics when faced with, for example, being asked to build a Muslim registry. Or to facilitate the separation of migrant children from their parents.\nAs Bloomberg reports, a number of tech leaders, including Apple\u2019s Tim Cook, Facebook\u2019s Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon\u2019s Jeff Bezos, have spoken out against the Trump administration\u2019s policy of separating families as they request asylum at the U.S. border. But besides public statements, Tweets, Facebook posts, and asking that the public donate to organizations helping migrant families, there hasn\u2019t been much concrete action against the policy.\n\n[ Read also: How you respond to election speaks volumes to employees. | Sign up for CIO newsletters. ]\n\nEarlier this year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella boasted about his company\u2019s work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), specifically around facial recognition and identification, but this week that has come back to bite him and his company. Even after a number of employees spoke up about Microsoft\u2019s work with ICE, Nadella has refused to consider ending the contract. His argument is that Microsoft \u201c\u2026 isn\u2019t working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border,\u201d only on \u201csupporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads.\u201d\nSure \u2014 because ICE doesn\u2019t use email? They don\u2019t use messaging, calendars; they don\u2019t store data about their work in the cloud? Really, Mr. Nadella \u2013 that\u2019s your story?\nI\u2019m not specifically picking on Microsoft \u2014 ICE also uses Google Maps. Nor am I saying this is a uniquely modern problem. IBM technology was critical to Nazi Germany\u2019s ability to carry out the Holocaust, and Big Blue was conspicuously silent about attempts to curtail or ban Muslim immigration.\nHundreds of companies, large and small, technology and otherwise, have government contracts whose products, services, and labor are used for less-than-ethical purposes. Google, for example, has come under fire for contracting with the U.S. government on Project Maven, using artificial intelligence (AI) to identify targets from drones. It\u2019s the stuff of techno-thrillers and sci-fi nightmares \u2014 combining the most terrifying applications of surveillance, facial recognition and (AI) with pilotless killing machines.\nTech industry in a position to create change\nThe tech industry is in a really unique position to make actual change, writes Kevin Roose in an open letter to tech workers from April 2018.\n\u201cYou are your employers\u2019 most valuable assets, and your bosses are desperate to keep you happy. As tech companies take on increasingly vital roles in global commerce and culture, you have the power to shape the way they operate and the ethical standards they uphold.\n\u201cIf you want change, all you have to do is organize and speak up,\u201d Roose says.\nAnd he\u2019s right.\n\u201cEmployees from large tech companies\u00a0led an effort\u00a0to oppose the travel ban announced by President Trump last year. And employees of Facebook, Google, Intel, Cisco, and Stripe\u00a0attended a demonstration\u00a0at the headquarters of Palantir to protest the company\u2019s development of surveillance technology for federal immigration enforcers. Just this month, more than 3,000 Google employees\u00a0signed a letter\u00a0objecting to the company\u2019s involvement in a Pentagon program that could use artificial intelligence to improve the accuracy of drone strikes,\u201d Roose says.\nSome Google employees have resigned rather than working on projects that violate their personal values. Because of internal opposition and the public outcry, Google now says it will allow the Project Maven contract to expire and will not renew it.\nRoose cites groups like The Tech Workers Coalition.\n\u201cThe\u00a0Tech Workers Coalition, a group of hundreds of concerned industry employees, [which] has chapters in San Francisco, Seattle and San Jose, and a group called Tech Action began meeting in New York last year. The\u00a0Center for Humane Technology, a group of ex-tech workers, has been pushing for ethical product development,\u201d he says.\nTech workers have leverage and power \u2014 talent is scarce and in huge demand.\nTech workers have leverage and power \u2014 talent is scarce and in huge demand. Companies are already willing to pay exorbitant salaries and offer benefits and perks that are the envy of the world. Every company is a software company, as the saying goes; without the people who design, develop and deploy technology, these companies fail. That\u2019s a huge edge.\nTech workers should take advantage of it. Look closely at your company (or potential company\u2019s) ties to governments and private organizations, their business practices, their strategic partners. What kinds of projects are they working on? Do those align with your values? What causes are important to you, and are they the same as those supported by your current or future employer?\n\u201cWhat if Facebook employees publicly took their executives to task for neglecting the\u00a0real-world violence their products are causing in places like Myanmar and Sri Lanka? What if Google or Twitter employees threatened to walk unless their executives took major action against\u00a0radical extremists and hate speech? What if Apple employees insisted that the company\u00a0stop parking billions of dollars in offshore tax shelters, or Amazon engineers threatened to quit unless the company\u00a0paid its warehouse workers\u00a0higher wages?\u201d Roose asks.\nWhat if, indeed. Tech workers really could change the world.