Survey Finds Conservatives Feel Out of Place in Silicon Valley

In recent weeks, uproar over Silicon Valley’s alleged bias against reactionaries has intensified–from Project Veritas secretly filming Twitter employees to burnt Google engineer James Damore suing his former employer for allegedly discriminating against whites, males, and reactionaries at a company that is 69 percent white and 56 percentage male.

Now Lincoln Network, a right-leaning political group for tech workers, wants to enter the fray as a voice of reason–armed with data.

“I think everyone agrees that this topic is not going away, ” says Lincoln Network cofounder Garrett Johnson, a former Rhodes Scholar who sold his Y Combinator-backed messaging startup in 2016. Johnson says Lincoln Network wants to “constructively engage in this conversation, ” in hopes of improving the work environment at tech companies.

Over the past couple of months, Lincoln Network conducted an online survey of 387 employees of corporations like Google, Facebook, Apple, Uber, and Salesforce, plus one-on-one interviews with 23 respondents who agreed to speak anonymously. Respondents volunteered to take the survey after find the link online or on internal meetings at corporations like Google.

The survey observed employees who identify as conservative or very conservative are increasingly uncomfortable at work. Two-thirds or more of all those people who describe themselves as libertarian, conservative or very conservative “says hes” feel less comfortable sharing their ideological opinions with colleagues since Google burnt Damore in August. But simply 30 percentage of liberals and 14 percent of people who say they are very liberal was of the view that way.

Johnson says he hopes the survey sparks a broader conversation about ideological tolerance in the workplace. Employers should care because if conservatives feel like they can’t bringing their “whole self” to job that could affect performance, he says, referencing a popular mantra in the tech industry, which has been usually supportive of free expression in the workplace.

The makes represent an improbably narrow self-selecting sample of tech employees. The subset of “very conservative” employees, for instance, encompasses only 20 individuals.

However, respondents were fairly well scattered in all the regions of the ideological spectrum. The largest subset, 24 percent, designated as libertarian; 17.6 percent identified as conservative, 5.2 percentage identified as very conservative, 16.3 percentage identified as moderate, 18.3 percentage identified as liberal, and 11.1 percentage as very liberal.

The survey did not ask which views respondents felt were being stillness. Johnson says conservative tech workers have told him they seem uncomfortable discussing traditional beliefs of matrimony or family. “The issue of cultural norms when it comes to family and sexual orientation, those are difficult conversations, they are just intensified in the Bay Area, ” Johnson says.

One Salesforce employee who participated in the survey, but did not want to be named, says he didn’t vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election for fear it might injure his job if it became known. “I have trouble believing that they would be able to make a rational decision about that person’s advertising or job growing or endorsement of such person or persons, ” knowing that the person voted for Trump, he says. A Salesforce spokesperson says, “Voting is a private topic. However, Salesforce is proud to have 30,000 employees who bring a diverse set of views and perspectives to our workplace.”

Mike Wacker, a Google software engineer who did not respond to the survey, says has become a Republican at a tech company seems similar to being a Republican in college. “In both environments, you’re often the token Republican, and Republicans are profoundly unpopular, ” he says. “But I felt more comfortable as a Republican in college than I feel now as a Republican in tech.”

The survey likewise requested information about sharing viewpoints “in a casual operate context, if the subject of politics or culture were raised.” Sixty percent of the very conservative group indicated that they would “never” share their views, to report to merely 4.7 percent of very liberals. Aside from very conservative employees, approximately 40 percentage of the other groups said they would decide whether to share a standpoint based on the issue and their perception of others’ views.

The Lincoln Network survey was framed as a questionnaire about “viewpoint diversity, ” a fraught term favored for years by conservatives that has enjoyed a resurgence in Silicon Valley. Mark Zuckerberg invoked the best interests of a diversity of viewpoints when Facebook was pressured to remove Peter Thiel from its board of directors after he donated to Trump’s campaign. Damore likewise used the term in his memo, although his views on whether ladies are less biologically predisposed to become engineers was not explicitly a political argument.

Ellen Pao, one of the cofounders of Project Include, a nonprofit that advises tech corporations about making their workplace more welcoming, says the use of the word “diversity” to describe views like Damore’s can confuse the issue, particularly within the tech industry, which has become as polarized as the tech platforms they operate. The majority group, “who have had the ability to say whatever they want for so long, ” are now seeming marginalized and censored, ” says Pao. “It’s interesting to see how disagreeable they find it.”

Johnson, however, argues that companies that champion tolerance should also prioritize stimulating reactionaries feel welcome, especially because some of the divisiveness in political discourse stems from platforms has been established by Silicon Valley. Johnson, who grew up going to a predominantly black faith and went to a Southern Baptist high school, says, there needs to be a lane “to understand how to navigate those more challenging conversations.”

Divided Valley

Diversity advocates at Google say they are being harassed by right-wing radicals, with the help of their own coworkers.

James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas tried to uncover what it called anti-conservative bias inside Twitter.

Fired Google engineer James Damore sought to embarrass the company in his suit claiming discrimination.

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