What are the ethical obligations of Silicon Valley startups? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
The #1 ethical requirement of Silicon Valley startups is to the people who use our products and services. That includes being aware of the harm our products might have. Social media is coming to that reckoning now. We also can't forget that we are here to create positive products and experiences that are -- hopefully -- a net positive for the world. Otherwise, what is the point?
The #2 obligation is to employees. They deserve fair, healthy, supportive environments to not just do their jobs but thrive in their careers and lives. Right now we are appropriately focused on making sure women and minorities get a fair shot in tech companies. There is a fiction that we are a meritocracy. But frankly, it is a fiction we should try to live up to, like other fictions we know aren't at 100% but we strive for nonetheless, "justice for all" and "freedom".
#3 we have to be engaged and committed to the communities where we are embedded. We rely on the infrastructure and services of cities, states, and countries and the schools, hospitals, and other services. Different companies have different ways they can and should be engaged, but to ignore this connection is wrong.
#4 is our obligations to investors. Yes, it is #4. The definition of ownership in a public company for example, is the "residual value" after other obligations are met.
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