In Silicon Valley and San Francisco, tech workers' otherwise plush salaries don’t always pay the rent. But it isn’t the impacted cost of housing in the Bay Area that’s causing the highest rate of turnover in the industry. As a new study suggests, mistreatment in the workplace is the prevailing trend forcing high-paid techies to flee their jobs en masse.
Conducted by the Ford Foundation and Kapor Center for Social Impact, the survey queried 2,006 current and former tech employees, probing the various reasons why workers voluntarily quit their positions. As the research claims: “78% of employees reported experiencing some form of unfair behavior or treatment, while 85% witnessed or observed unfair behavior or treatment in their previous company.” Many, however, cited grievously unfair treatment as the main impetus for leaving a job altogether: “Unfairness or mistreatment within the work environment was the most frequently cited reason for leaving, with 37% of the sample indicating that unfair treatment was a major factor in their decision to leave their company.”
While unfair treatment cut across the divide for most tech workers, differences varied along ethnic and gender lines. As the report explains:
- Nearly one quarter of underrepresented men and women of color experienced stereotyping, twice the rate of White and Asian men and women.
- Almost one-third of underrepresented women of color were passed over for promotion--more than any other group.
- 1 in 10 women in tech reported experiencing unwanted sexual attention.
- LBGT employees were most likely to be bullied (20%) and experience public humiliation or embarrassment (24%), while White and Asian men and women were most likely to perceive unfairness in management practices and leadership.
- Experiencing and observing unfairness is significantly related to turnover, with the experiences most strongly related to turnover (stereotyping and bullying) being those experienced most often by underrepresented groups.
The adverse work environments at various tech giants such as Uber and Amazon have been well documented. Uber has been fending off a mounting PR disaster since February, when a female ex-employee wrote a blogpost decrying the company’s workplace sexism. Since then, high-level executives have left the company, including Amit Singhal, who resigned over accusations of sexual harassment at a former job, and Rachel Whitestone, its head of global communications.
The high-rate of turnover is costing the industry billions, as the study suggests “unfairness alone will cost tech companies $16B per year in employee replacement costs.” If that sounds hyperbolic, it cost tech firms an average of $144,000 to refill positions once they’ve been vacated, factoring in “lost productivity, recruiting costs, salary.”