Tech companies and other large corporations have the opportunity and the necessary resources to become model employers for all of their employees—headquarters, warehouse, and contractors—ensuring living wages, affordable benefits, and pathways to economic mobility.
Within the tech sector, we see large disparities emerging between headquarters, warehouse, and contracted workers. Companies must be held accountable to responsible contracting standards, labor protections, respecting the right of employees to organize, and removing artificial barriers between workers that suppress wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Often we hear of workforce training initiatives, billed to help underserved communities find entry points to good jobs and tech employment. While we support this idea, we know that this is an insufficient strategy. Training as a stand-alone approach will not lead us out of inequality and will not guarantee employment for most displaced workers. In order to solve this crisis, we must undertake multiple strategies—massive jobs programs, high labor standards and protections for all jobs, and innovative recruitment, training, and development of new and diverse talent.
At the same time, the tech industry, which is notoriously exclusive, has an imperative to make its employee base more representative of the population at large—not just to create broader economic opportunity, but because companies with diverse representation at all levels are more likely to be successful than those that aren’t. Diverse representation also makes companies more likely to avoid product and business decisions that harm society.
As inequality deepens and corporate power grows, many workers cannot make ends meet while working full-time and often multiple jobs. Our limited social framework provides meager benefits to those living in abject poverty, but ignores that the majority of Americans struggle to access healthcare, pay rent, and afford child care. This approach leaves millions of workers and their families on a precipice where one emergency can push them into poverty, homelessness or worse.
We need a new social contract that ensures everyone has the basics to survive. We are intrigued by bold ideas being put forth in California and across the nation for guaranteed income, affordable public healthcare, secure publicly-held retirements, portable employment benefits, and more. We must strengthen our social safety net such that no one falls through the cracks.