Thursday, September 16

Tech Workers’ New Dilemma: “If I Get Paid More But It’s Unethical, I’ll Leave”

Until it was bought by a bank, Daniel * lived quietly working in a small financial company called Aplázame. “When they contacted me, I thought it was a quick loan. But I informed myself well, I saw that they were not deceiving anyone and I joined the team,” he says. “We gave financing in the most honest way possible, explaining well what happened if someone did not pay. We informed people of where they were getting, we fought the fine print.”

In 2018, WiZink – an entity with numerous convictions for selling revolving cards, which charge abusive interest – acquired Aplázame and things began to change. “Some still didn’t cross my red line because they weren’t fooling the user. But they suggested adding thorny patterns that could trick the customer, just like revolving cards. The line was to see that the best decision for clients was not always made. ”

When he felt that the principles had changed, Daniel thought it was time to go. He looked for another job and jumped into a sector away from finance. “Financial technology companies have to pay more because people leave. In this sector, workers are increasingly aware of the impact of their products and services,” he adds. “Even if they paid me more: if I stayed, it had to be something ethical.”

The story of Daniel recalls, saving the distances, the testimonies of the documentary The Social Dilemma. In addition to pointing out the addiction they cause, the film shows the repentance of industry workers – designers, computer scientists, team leaders – ideologues of functions such as the “Like” button or the scroll infinite.

There is a current of regrets in Silicon Valley who ask the technology companies to fix the “disaster” they have created. And there are tech workers at companies with questionable work practices, like Amazon, raising their voices to support their warehouse and delivery colleagues and even resigning over the company’s treatment of them.

In Spain there are also sectors that these professionals look at with suspicion. Although principles do not always win money and companies, who know it, take out the checkbook to attract them.

“This has always happened with banking,” says Pablo Ruiz, CEO of the technology consultancy Kaleidos. “Banks and energy companies pull their checkbook to ensure reluctant talent. The number of powerful people who work in banking is impressive. In private they recognize that they are not enthusiastic. The company makes sure to be stable and generous so that your existential doubts dissipate” .

At Kaleidos they are exquisite at choosing clients, so much so that they created an ethics committee that analyzes doubtful ideas and is concerned that they are “aligned” with their values. Before that, they agreed to develop a content portal for an oil company. “We thought it was not hurting anyone, but I think now it would not have come out,” says Ruiz. “The project was white, but from one of the most polluting companies in Spain.”

María *, a worker with experience in technology who was looking for a job, received references from Lana, another small technology company aimed at workers on platforms such as Uber, Rappi or Cabify. In Latin American countries these workers do not have a bank account, so companies cannot pay them. Lana issues them a card and solves the problem. But you have added the option to apply for loans with annual interest rates above 400%. María went through the selection process, but when she found out about the loans, she went off the subject and ended up in another sector.

Work to attract people to gambling

“With the proliferation of online gambling, a client arrived who wanted to collect all the information on the premiums paid by each house. It is not the same to bet that Real Madrid win and that they pay me 5 euros instead of 3. It was a comparator. They called it ‘democratizing’ online gambling to ’empower’ bettors and make more informed decisions, “continues Ruiz de Kaleidos.” The answer was no. We explained that it was a segment with which we had many doubts. That if democratizing meant attracting more people to gambling … we didn’t see it. ”

The gaming industry seems sensitive to the dilemma. Teresa, a young specialist in recruiting technical profiles, recently shared his experience on Twitter. “So far this month I have turned down three offers from gambling companies seeking tech recruiters [reclutadores tecnológicos]. One even offered me a salary increase … 56%! It seems that the movement against gambling has taken hold and they are unable to hire anyone. “The responses were full of people assuring that, for them, gambling (gambling, casinos and gambling) was a clear red line.

Enric, a quality engineer (profile in charge of ensuring that the product comes out without failures) who works in a health company, explains that the salaries to work in the game are higher than the average. “My position can be between 46,000 and 48,000 euros per year. Offers for the same position in gaming companies exceed 60,000 euros per year. They come from Ireland and the United Kingdom,” he says. “When they have written to me for matters of poker or gambling, I have never gone beyond a certain contact.”

The demand for technical profiles is high around the world, so job offers – for gambling or any other segment – are common. “I would say that 40% of those I receive are from games. And it is the only one in which I openly say that I do not see myself for ethical reasons,” continues Eric. “I have reluctance with video games, because you know that you are going to do infinite days, and the bank generates controversies for me but it is possible that I came to consider it. We are lucky that if we run out of work there is movement, but it is a bubble: I understand that other people do not consider these reluctance. ”

Pentasia, a headhunting company for the gaming industry, publishes an annual salary survey. The European average is 56,000 pounds (almost 66,000 euros) a year and the profiles analyzed include data, legal, customer service, design and technology, operations and finance, marketing, product and sales. Executive positions reach 130,000 annually. In the absence of manpower, employers, the report says, “tend to look east and hire in Bulgaria, Estonia and Ukraine.” In addition, Gibraltar has the highest positions and the average salary rises to 90,000 pounds per year.

“You have Bwin, William Hill and someone else. They are located there because of taxes,” says a person who has worked for a large bookmaker for many years. “And in the houses we need people with very specific knowledge, specialists in prognosis and evaluation of results.”

How much posture is there?

For this person, rejections for ethical reasons are not at all relevant. “It is difficult for us to hire technical personnel like any company. But in my professional career I will have met two or three people who have said that they are not interested in the position for ethical reasons. We have had to be frowned upon, but it will go out of style”, He says. “Do they reject positions in pharmaceutical companies that get rich in a pandemic? In food companies that make pastries? It’s all hypocrisy. Developers play in another labor market league, with different rules from other mortals. Every sector has its bitter point, it’s the companies that make the difference, for better or for worse. ”

Sources specialized in recruiting technical talent point in the same direction. “There are many developers attracted to the gaming sector because it is an entry point to the video game industry, which is very small in Spain. gambling (gambling) is the closest thing to gaming (videogames) that are in computing. There are people who mark that red line, of course, but it is not a significant percentage, “he says.” One thing is the posture of a certain part of the sector on Twitter and then real life.

Several respondents who reject the game explain that if an offer comes to them – sometimes the name of the company does not appear in the offer, only what it does – they ignore it without further ado. They also mention cryptocurrency, blockchain or trading-related projects.

“Likewise, the red line is born from ignorance,” acknowledges Marcos, a senior developer at a consultancy in Valladolid. “But today, if a big bookmaker offers me a fortune, I say no. I don’t want to call it a privilege, but in this sector it is easy to find work. I could tell you that I try to be very ethical and that delivery companies , Uber or Cabify cause me conflict. But it’s complicated. Google, Facebook, Amazon … have behaviors that make you tremble. And I don’t like them, but I haven’t had the pleasure of rejecting them either. ”

* The names of Daniel and María have been changed to protect their identity.

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