Construction is near to completion on Apple's $5B campus in Cupertino, and the project has included many odd notes, like the insistence on not having thresholds on the floor of the doorways lest daydreaming engineers trip over them, and some weird ideas about where the bathrooms should go.
But of more significance is the omission of any daycare facilities, even as the plans include a 100,000 square foot employee gym. It's emblematic of the notorious Silicon Valley tendency to wipe out work-life balance (a pattern often reflected in the products the industry creates); its long pattern of discrimination against older, more seasoned workers in favor of young and easily manipulated workers who'll pull the long hours the industry relies on; and the pattern of excluding women from the workforce by failing to account for the distinctive needs of a woman workforce, including childcare.
As Quartz's Mike Murphy explains, employer-supplied childcare is a major predictor of retention of woman employees: Patagonia introduced on-site childcare and its retention rate for female employees shot to 100%.
There is a small, vocal minority of people who believe that their use of Apple products makes them into a kind of oppressed minority, and that literally anything negative said about the company represents an irrational "hipster" hatred of the company for doing so well. They are probably in the comments on this post right now, trying their spittle-flecked darndest to demoralize anyone who creates cognitive dissonance in them about their purchasing decisions, insisting nonsensically that critics of Apple give other companies a walk on the same issues (they are not all that dissimilar from people who insist that criticizing Mozilla for going the wrong way on DRM is unfair because we don't criticize other companies [we do] or that we never take note of the good things Mozilla does [we do]).
Companies and organizations are not intrinsic forces for good. They are good when they do good. Apple was good when it fought the FBI on decryption backdoors in their devices. It was good when it fought North Carolina on transphobic bathroom laws. It was not good when it asked the Copyright Office to continue to felonize repairing or disclosing vulnerabilities in Apple products. It was not good when it ordered its recycler to shred used Apple products to prevent the development of a secondary market in used products, when it instructed its employees to covertly change the screws in its products to lock out independent repairers, or when it sued journalists for reporting on leaks from its own employees. They were not good when they colluded with other firms to rig employment markets. They were not good when they stashed billions offshore in a massive, fraudulent tax-evasion scheme.
(For the record, Google was also not good when it did this. Nor was Amazon. Nor was Starbucks, or Ikea)
Companies aren't our friends. Mottoes like "don't be evil" matter only to the extent that the companies that evince them follow them. The people who work for companies can be good, even while the companies aren't. Sometimes, badness is an emergent property of good people.
But the tactic of pointing to other companies that have done bad things when your favorite company is caught in its own misdeeds is the "But her emails!" of technology fanboyism.
It's literally pathetic.
On-site childcare remains a rare feature in corporate America. But it’s been shown to do wonders for parents of young children. Its presence has helped Patagonia, for example, to retain 100% of the women on staff who have had children over the past five years. (The average in the US is under 80%.)
But this campus, we are reminded throughout Wired’s story, is Jobs’ legacy. And despite fathering four children, three with wife Laurene Powell Jobs and another from an earlier relationship (whom he acknowledged only after a court-ordered paternity test), Jobs seemingly never used his influence to change the debate over work-life balance. There was no time to perfect that—not when so much of his life went into perfecting the work.
Apple’s new $5 billion campus has a 100,000-square-foot gym and no daycare [Mike Murphy/Quartz]
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Joe Ravi, CC-BY-SA)