Any modern organization has technology at its core. Most organisations depend on email, shared calendars, shared files and increasingly social media.
The pace of technological change is breath-taking and the impacts are global. Business owners constantly need to revisit their basic approaches to business operations, and this has only accelerated with the Internet.
Being aware of the implications of technological choices is important for any ethical business.
Recognize the rights of your staff to their privacy. Increasingly it is possible to monitor your staff’s activity. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies make it easier for staff to do their work from home, but also inevitably means staff will be using the device at work for personal use.
Do you use any monitoring tools that track the behaviours of your staff? Are they aware of this?
Do you monitor your staff’s Social Media profiles? Do you look at the Social Media profiles of prospective employees?
New technology has almost always reduced the number of jobs required to get a task done. The introduction of computers accelerated this, and has also opened up new opportunities.
What automation processes are you adopting in your organization? Are there means to improve service quality by adding automation rather than replacing staff?
How do you support your team through these inevitable transitions?
All technological advancement is ultimately “standing on the shoulders of giants”. Technological leaps like the Internet would only have been possible with a commitment to an open web. Consider contributing to public knowledge, particularly if the advancement isn’t a core competitive advantage for your business.
Many lives were saved because the way to manufacture penicillin was shared, not patented.
When looking at our own innovation, where do we provide credit to those whose ideas have influenced us?
What is it right to own, and profit from? What should be contributed back to the commons?
How will other lives be affected by your choice to share this technology?
Technology has offered a huge opportunity for people with disabilities to be able to engage effectively in social, economic and political life. Unfortunately, the implementation of user interfaces often provides a barrier with which 10-20% of the population has trouble using. By not proactively thinking about accessibility when making technology choices we are excluding a big portion of the population. The abilities of your existing staff may also change with aging, disease or injury.
Have you adopted standards like Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for your public and internal interfaces?
Do you have an accessibility policy? Does that apply to your procurement decisions?
Security is important for the privacy of your staff and clients. It is also important for supporting common infrastructure and reliability. Insecure technology has been used to sabotage organizations, blackmail individuals and organizations.
What policies have you set up to ensure that your technology is kept up to date with the latest security releases?
Is someone in your organization responsible for looking into your IT security and address issues as they come up?
If you supply software:
Do you accept responsibility for all the flaws in it, especially when they may have significant consequences
Is your End User License Agreement (EULA) easily understood by the reader and are its conditions fair to both parties?
It is difficult to have a healthy work/life balance. Some industries push their staff to work 50-60 hours a week. Technology makes it easier for staff to be available around the clock. Several studies have shown that people are healthier and happier if they get away from their devices.
What are the expectations of your staff to respond outside of normal work hours?
Do you encourage your team to unplug and be disconnected from the office and technology?