December 2020 Newsletter
Big tech’s impact on politics, philanthropy and the economy
The booming success of many tech companies has been one of few bright spots for the Bay Area economy in the 2020 economic recession, amidst a crisis of small businesses closures and unemployed workers desperately waiting for another round of Federal relief
This month we explore perspectives on the impact of thriving big tech corporations and leaders on politics, philanthropy and workers.
- Automation isn’t inherently bad for workers, it depends how you use it. A broad coalition led by Athena calls on Amazon to stop using technology for worker surveillance and start using it to support worker well-being.
- COVID has accelerated remote work adoption in the tech sector, with workers leaving the Bay Area in search of more affordable places to live. Is this an opportunity for greater diversity in tech hiring? Or a chance to wean the Bay Area economy off of its reliance on tech, and strive for a more balanced economy that includes equitable opportunities for all workers?
- In American democracy, wealth means power. Silicon Valley leaders are exerted growing influence over state and Federal policy, including bankrolling successful passage of the most expensive ballot initiative in US history. That initiative, Prop 22, is illustrative of the ability of corporations to use their wealth to influence policy to benefit their bottom line, at the expense of individuals and families. An upcoming Tech Equity Collaborative panel asks the question: “Should Tech Companies Be Political?”
- Tech companies and their leaders are sharing some of their rapidly growing wealth, by increasing their philanthropic giving.
- While these additional grant dollars provide important support to hard hit Bay Area communities, the growing role of tech in philanthropy can also come with pitfalls. For example, the Knight Foundation points to the propagation of a techno-solutionist mindset to social problems; rather than funding the long term, complex work necessary to realize an equitable economic future.
Read on for more insights and solutions from the field, and funding and job opportunities.