April 4th, 2014

Shake - That's What it Does

Free Speech Meets Tribal Accountability

Background (From internet sources)

Following a whirlwind of controversy and a few weeks in the headlines, Brendan Eich is resigning as Mozilla's chief executive officer. Eich had only been chief of the company behind popular web browser Firefox for a very brief term. Mozilla had been searching for a new CEO since Gary Kovacs, who came on-board in 2010, departed almost a year ago. But it soon came to light, or rather resurfaced, that Eich had made a $1,000 donation to the campaign supporting Proposition 8 amid the 2008 Presidential election. Prop. 8 sought to ban same-sex marriage in California. Although he initially rebuffed criticism about his donations and politics, Eich soon expressed sorrow "at having caused pain" to Firefox users offended by his donation. Those sentiments weren't nearly enough for Internet users and even Mozilla's board members alike -- three of whom were initially reported to have jumped ship over Eich's appointment. According to Firefox's memo on Thursday, Eich has chosen to leave the company on his own versus being fired.

This situation has drawn a lot of comments from all sides. Cries of “leftist anti-free speech” have gone up. There has been a backlash against QLBTQ groups for pursuing persecution of Brendan. On the other hand there has been righteous anger directed at Brendan for helping finance one of the most polically bitter attacks on gay rights. That’s the big picture.

The small picture is one of tribal contracts. I found this summed up very nice in a blog comment I saw:

There are lots of companies where a guy who opposes marriage equality can get a CEO gig, it's just that Mozilla is not one of them. The fact is that the high-tech industry has an inordinate number of LGBT people working in it, and I'd go so far to say that the "open source community" has an even higher per capita percentage. If your CEO is so against a core-issue of that community that he's willing to contribute a grand to outlaw it, you've got a problem. PETA would never hire a factory farmer as CEO, nor McDonalds would ever hire a vegan. This guy walked into the job having alienated a core, vocal component of his users, and so his position was untenable.

Dig deep into this story and you’ll find that the Mozilla employees waged a coordinated Twitter attack on their CEO. The above comment hit the nail on the head when it speaks of a company's CEO needing to be in sync with the employees. Do have otherwise is to promote dissention in the ranks. Normally the bad apple is the minion employee. This time the CEO was not aligned with the values of the organization. Rules that work for a large group break down at the tribal level, and visa versa. An important thing to remember!