In our previous blogpost on our Pulse survey, we discussed the fact that 40% of business decision-makers feel less positively about tech companies than they did five years ago.
And we said that, in response, tech firms need to acknowledge and embrace their responsibilities to wider society beyond shareholders or investors. But importantly they need to go further and actively demonstrate their responsible credentials too.
So what might this look like in practice?
I think there are three key priorities tech firms must do.
- Develop points of view on the big issues
Companies can’t dig their heads in the sand and ignore the debates going on around them about the ethics of technology or its real-world impact. They need to take a view on these issues and know where they stand. And they need to actively take these viewpoints out to their customers, partners and employees so that their thinking is understood.
- Tell stories about what you’re doing
Viewpoints themselves, though, aren’t enough. Companies need to take real action – whether that’s on encouraging diversity among their workforces, making their products and services more sustainable, or addressing the effect automation might have on jobs.
Then they need to shine a light on what they’re doing so that their stakeholders know that they’re taking this seriously. There often aren’t any easy answers to some of these issues, so opening up about what they’re doing can be painful. But over time this transparency and authenticity will build their credibility and foster greater trust.
- Stay on top as the debate evolves
The tech narrative keeps developing, as tools get more sophisticated and as the public debate advances too. Companies need to keep a close eye on the issues that are emerging and ensure they have a suitable response to these new arguments and areas of focus. Tech has firmly established itself as one of most influential industries of the modern age. Its responsibilities won’t go away, so tech firms should get used to a greater level of scrutiny and higher expectations from customers and policymakers.
What do you think about these priorities? Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments below.