Report Details How Internal Slack Groups Have Become a Problem for Apple

BY Sanuj Bhatia

Published 26 Aug 2021

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A new report from The Information details how internal Slack groups have become a problem for Apple. Over the past few months, we’ve seen Apple employees raise voice against Apple’s decisions. Just a few weeks ago, Apple employees raised voices against CSAM detection. Now, the report details why work from home and some Slack groups have become a problem for Apple.

The report claims that Apple’s Slack became a “virtual town square” at the company. Currently, Apple employees are asked to sign multiple non-disclosure agreements vowing to not reveal information about their work, including their spouses and close ones.

“Before Slack, it was difficult for employees to talk to somebody who works in retail unless you went to the store. It was impossible to talk to someone who works in hardware as I don’t work with anyone there. You’re giving people a platform that allows them to connect with people they wouldn’t ordinarily connect with.”

A former Apple procurement manager told the publication that Apple’s internal employee directory was so difficult to navigate that it was virtually impossible to find out, citing an example, say who was in charge of iPad in Latin America. But, in 2019, Apple decided to adopt Slack for communication. Before 2019, Apple relied on proprietary software for communication.

But with COVID-19, communication using Slack has increased. The report says there are over 3,000 internal Apple Slack channels with more than 10,000 members making it easier for employees to communicate with each other and unite around common goals, like #announcements, #careers, #help-desk-support, #talk-investments, and #talk-trading.

“People are fully remote now, so what was previously water-cooler chat has become much more candid because the digital environment feels safer and less personalized.”

The report says these Slack channels have lead employees revolt against the company’s decision, for example, hiring of Antonio Garcia Martinez. A small group of them also launched a website around the hashtag #AppleToo earlier this week.

Scarlett told the Information that Apple’s culture of secrecy was good for keeping new products under wraps, but not great for employee organizing. “Slack and social media have been absolutely the biggest catalyst in giving workers the ability to organize,” she said.

At the same time, speaking on the record to the media without official authorization, as Scarlett did with the Information, would have been almost unthinkable a few years ago for Apple employees. But Scarlett said she feels comfortable doing so because employees are protected from company retaliation when discussing workplace conditions. “A nondisparagement clause doesn’t mean you can’t say anything bad about the company,” she said. “You can openly talk about discrimination.”

Do you think Apple employees raising voices against the company’s decisions through Slack groups is justified? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

[Via The Information]