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The Ethical Dilemma at the Heart of Big Tech Companies | Harvard Business Review

By Emanuel Moss & Jacob Metcalf
November 14, 2019

The central challenge ethics owners in tech companies are grappling with is negotiating between external pressures to respond to ethical crises at the same time that they must be responsive to the internal processes of their companies and the industry. On the one hand, external criticisms push them toward challenging core business practices and priorities. On the other hand, there are pressures to establish or restore predictable processes and outcomes that serve the bottom line. This ratchets up the pressure to fit in and ratchets down the capacity to object to ethically questionable products, which makes it all the more difficult to distinguish between success and failure — moral victories can look like punishment while ethically questionable products earn big bonuses. The tensions that arise from this must be worked through, with one eye on process, but also with the other eye squarely focused on outcomes for the broader society.

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