After I've just rejected another project offer from a company whose company values I disagree with, I started thinking: Wouldn't it be great if all of us IT people could band together and sign a pledge not to work for unethical companies?

If enough of us did it, given how hard it is to find good people in our line of work, we could have a real impact!

Agreeing on a definition of "ethical" would not be easy, but I bet we could find some common ground.

Let me know if this proposal makes sense!

@colomar This makes sense, but there are probably not enough people with similar principles.

@colomar Wouldn't it be better to sign a manifesto of positivity that defines what we expect from an ethical company instead? Being against is simple. But change comes from defining what to support IMHO.

@jwildeboer Yes, that makes perfect sense, but I'd still want to say "We'd only work for ethical companies according to our manifesto.".
I want companies to feel that it's not just nice words, but it will have an impact on their recruitment.

@colomar Sure. I agree with that. But signing a pledge to NOT work for unethical companies is too vague for me. That's why I thought that turning it upside down makes more sense. Also good for companies to sign that manifesto!

Absolutely, being positive is always better than being negative. As a psychologist, I should have phrased it in a positive way right from the beginning. Oh well, thank you for reminding me :)

@colomar how will you define "unethical"? Will be challanging.

As @jwildeboer already mentioned: What we should do is write a list of criteria for what we consider "ethical" instead.
Agreeing on those criteria won't be easy, either, but we love challenges and problem-solving, don't we? ;)

@colomar @illyrion @jwildeboer

Maybe a license of sort or a point system. Like if you have 10 points to follow. A company could be at 5 point or 7 point compliance. It would motivate a company to strive for better compliance.

@shellkr Interesting point! Partial compliance could also be possible indeed.

@illyrion @jwildeboer

As for the indicators: I think we can borrow a lot from criteria that various NGOs have already developed, no need to re-invent the wheel. There are already criteria for various areas of corporate responsibility out there, we just need to select the ones that make most sense for us.
@shellkr @illyrion

@colomar @shellkr @illyrion We had a similar idea some time ago for an ethical cryptocurrency, where you would have devaluation coupled with ethical factors. So you could make sure your "coins" could never be used for example to pay for weapons. Let me try to find that plan again in my archive.

@colomar @shellkr @illyrion it should be some list of maybe 5 indicators IMHO. Not a single score. It should come from regular internal surveying and published voluntarily and transparently.

@colomar @shellkr @illyrion those that sign the manifesto are obligated to do that. Not only companies but IMHO also candidates. A uniform system could result in making it part of the CV, making matching much simpler. Saves time for both sides.

Agreed, an overall score probably isn't of much use. If someone e.g. cares a lot about sustainability, they won't work for a company that checks every box _except_ for sustainability.
@shellkr @illyrion

@colomar I like this general idea. The developers I've most enjoyed working with are the ones who have close to the highest ethical standards, ones that come from intrinsic motivations.

I think a binary in/out is not refined enough though. A "checklist" of developer-values could be interesting, aspire to the highest, but it's sort of OK if you want to compromise. A bit like f-droids anti features (

Are values attached to companies or developers though? Both?

@nicksellen The idea that is currently emerging from the replies to this toot is to have a set of criteria / areas of ethics which both companies and professionals can identify with / fulfill, so that people could be matched to companies based on it.
I really like that idea!
I wonder why none of the job networks I know have such a thing.

@colomar it's a bit like - but with ethical values.

There is too, but it's worker co-ops only, and no further value-filters.

Personally, I'm more interested to meet ethically aligned people in person (or through a nice project) than to trawl through a job board.

@nicksellen Yeah, the idea isn't really a job board (at least not at the moment), it's more to show to companies that if they behave ethically, they'll have a much better chance at recruiting good talent.

@colomar maybe all these cool ethical developers can just build cool ethical stuff directly and replace the existing companies over time instead of pleading to them ... In that case some system to actually verify they really are ethical would be useful.

@nicksellen What I (and I'm sure you as well) often experience is that ethical people work on ethical FOSS in their spare time but don't find a suitable paying job in FOSS (or other ethical companies), so they still make their money working for not-so-ethical companies.
That's why I believe that compelling existing companies to be more ethical is still valuable, in addition to working on ethical alternatives.
Plus: Just because the software is ethical doesn't necessarily make the company ethical

@colomar yes I think that is very valuable. I think it's also very emotionally tiring to have to put so much energy to justify what seems "normal" or obvious to oneself. And the constant pushback.

Another route would be trying to make volunteer projects pay. There was talk within the foodsharing board a while back about a voluntary donation that could be used to pay people. They had some nice ideas (more like a stipend or basic income than work4€€€). Not sure the latest on that.

@nicksellen Getting people paid to work on FOSS is also something that KDE does, though our approach is mostly getting companies involved in it and hiring people.
Which then of course means these companies need to be ethical (beyond just letting people work on FOSS).
But yeah, in an ideal world, people would only work on things they are passionate about instead of for money. We should work towards that world, but in the meantime also try to find jobs that are paid but also ethical.

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