Apple's legendary workplace secrecy threatened by Slack

Posted:
in General Discussion
Use of the Slack messaging service has become prevalent within Apple, bringing with it changes to how staff discuss projects -- and air grievances.

Slack and Apple
Slack and Apple


Slack has reportedly become so widespread amongst Apple employees that senior engineer Ashley Gjovik says she was told to stay off it. Gjovik had been complaining about sex discrimination, both directly to Apple and via Slack channels, and says that a condition of her being placed on paid leave was that she not use the messaging service.

Now a new report says that there are 3,000 internal Slack channels in use amongst Apple employees, with some unspecified number exceeding 10,000 members. According to The Information, Apple began using Slack in 2019, but it was during the coronavirus pandemic that it became popular amongst staff working from home.

"People are fully remote now," one former Apple employee, who left earlier in 2021, told the publication. "[So] what was previously water-cooler chat has become much more candid because the digital environment feels safer and less personalized."

Initially the Slack channels were reportedly typical corporate ones with names such as #announcements, and #careers. There will have been channels devoted to particular Apple projects, but then staff began adding broader ones to discuss benefits and other workplace issues.

Then in May 2021, it was directly because of a channel named #women-in-swe (software engineering) that Apple fired Antonio Garcia Martinez. While Martinez's reported views about women and people of color were later discussed on Twitter, and presented to Apple's Eddy Cue in a petition, they were first circulated on the Slack channel.

Apple was accused in July 2021 of shutting down Slack channels that were not directly related to work. Sources within Apple contacted AppleInsider to refute this, but the channels in question were reportedly discussing the dissension over the company's policies about returning staff to office work.

Similarly, Apple is accused of having shut down at least three staff-run surveys regarding salaries and pay equity. Software engineer Cher Scarlett then started her own survey outside of Apple.

"Slack and social media have been absolutely the biggest catalyst in giving workers the ability to organize," Scarlett told The Information.

Scarlett is not officially authorized to speak on the record about Apple, and the company has always been stringent over who can talk, and what they can discuss. But Scarlett says that 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."

Employment law aside, it appears that internal media such as Slack has emboldened Apple staff to organize, and to then discuss issues publicly.

Perhaps the most visible result of this is the new #AppleToo movement, which is a separate website outside of Apple's control. "We've exhausted all internal avenues," says the site, "we've talked with our leadership... Nothing has changed."

One positive change that Slack has reportedly prompted is what's said to be a newfound ability for Apple staff to discuss projects with colleagues they might otherwise never meet.

"Before Slack, it was difficult for employees to talk to somebody who works in retail unless you went to the store," said Scarlett. "It was impossible to talk to someone who works in hardware as I don't work with anyone there."

"[Slack is] giving people a platform that allows them to connect with people they wouldn't ordinarily connect with," she continued.

Apple has not commented on the article from The Information.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    Time for a new CEO at Apple. The things described here suggests the present one no longer connects to the people inside Apple and the handling of the CSAM stuff suggests he no longer understands the world outside Apple.
    williamlondondarkvaderelijahgchemengin1byronl
  • Reply 2 of 9
    igorskyigorsky Posts: 661member
    WilliamM said:
    Time for a new CEO at Apple. The things described here suggests the present one no longer connects to the people inside Apple and the handling of the CSAM stuff suggests he no longer understands the world outside Apple.
    Apple is still making products people want to buy, and shares are at (or near) all-time highs.  Yeah let's definitely get rid of the guy who spearheaded all this, brilliant.
    beowulfschmidtmike1doozydozenwilliamlondonmagman1979byronl
  • Reply 3 of 9
    BeatsBeats Posts: 3,073member
    This Ashley bi*** should have been fired as soon as she slandered Apple. Funny she gets paid vacation instead. Anyone find that funny?
    Also what a coincidence that #AppleToo becomes a thing soon after she speaks out. She’s bored at home looking for other ways to slander Apple while Apple rewards her for it.
    when you reward a certain class of people for bad behavior why would they give it up?

    Why are Apple employees using a public platform to speak about secret products? Apple would be best off developing their own app to allow people to communicate(or iMessage?). Imagine someone hacking into one of these Apple conversations?

    In the end, the people crying the loudest want to bash Apple while collecting pay from Apple. At least the guy who got #MeToo’d out of Apple for past remarks he made pre-Apple was never involved in such anti-Apple nonsense. 
    mike1williamlondonmagman1979
  • Reply 4 of 9
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,323member
    Well okay then. If there’s no more secrecy and all of Apple’s plans are made public then there won’t be any need for a rumor site like AppleInsider, will there. How long till Apple tech blogs disappear because they become irrelevant? 
  • Reply 5 of 9
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 599member
    See…This never would’ve happened under Microsoft Office.
    dewme
  • Reply 6 of 9
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 1,021member
    We don’t know the facts, but it’s sure fun to get overly emotional about it, tho. Seems like some of you are also bored and looking for something to do. 
  • Reply 7 of 9
    I wonder if Apple went public with spyOS 15 because they were forced to?

    It's no real surprise that Apple has a culture of discrimination.  There are a LOT of misogynists in software engineering.  But there are also a lot of good people, and they'll bring things like this into the light.
    elijahgbyronl
  • Reply 8 of 9
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,017member
    WilliamM said:
    Time for a new CEO at Apple. The things described here suggests the present one no longer connects to the people inside Apple and the handling of the CSAM stuff suggests he no longer understands the world outside Apple.
    From what bridges do people like you come out of from below?
    Detnator
  • Reply 9 of 9
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,668member
    igorsky said:
    WilliamM said:
    Time for a new CEO at Apple. The things described here suggests the present one no longer connects to the people inside Apple and the handling of the CSAM stuff suggests he no longer understands the world outside Apple.
    Apple is still making products people want to buy, and shares are at (or near) all-time highs.  Yeah let's definitely get rid of the guy who spearheaded all this, brilliant.
    Claiming Cook "spearheaded" Apple's success is extremely disingenuous to Jobs. Cook absolutely was instrumental in Apple's success with his excellent supply chain management, but all he's done as the CEO of Apple is kept the trajectory Jobs set in motion. Cook's only real concern is profit and shareholder value, whereas Jobs was all about making the best product. A lot of people here rate Cook on just one metric; the size of Apple - and therefore claim he's brilliant because he has presided over Apple's growth - but IMO a more important rating is whether Apple is "better" now than it was under Jobs; and I don't think it is. And whilst growth is great for shareholders, it makes little difference for customers. Cook is really a pretty average CEO - it would have been hard to find a CEO that wouldn't have resulted in Apple's success. 

    Unfortunately now Apple is nowhere near as flexible, agile and "cool" as it was under Jobs. Cook obviously doesn't use the products Apple produces - you can tell with his forced enthusiasm in keynotes, he is deaf to the employees, and is apparently deaf to customers too. He's completely misjudged his hires, employing people like Angela Ahrendts and John Browett. Apple has missed the smart speaker space, and isn't doing that well with smart home either. The only products entirely attributable to Cook are the HomePod and AppleTV+. And neither of those are exactly a blazing success. He has slowly morphed Apple into another lethargic IBM clone.
    byronl
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