Empower Everyone to be Ethical Decision-Makers: Growing Digital Ethics in Practice
For this episode, we’re joined by Sarah Drinkwater, Director of Beneficial Technology at Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm. For Sarah, the important thing about digital ethics is to get it out of the hands of specialist experts and to empower everyone to feel like a confident decision-maker on these important issues.
Digital ethics issues impact all of us, and for those who are designing and making digital products, there is a lot of responsibility to get it right and an often confusing array of resources to draw on. The Digital Ethics Explorer Kit was designed by Sarah and the Omidyar Network team to empower people who are passionate about digital ethics but who might be working with tight decision timeframes in organizations with limited structure in place to advise on digital ethics challenges.
Sarah points out that large organizations usually have someone who is responsible for these things sitting in a legal capacity or perhaps in a strategy function, but in some ways, that’s a luxury of scale. Smaller organizations often don’t have that type of specialization to draw on, but their responsibility to deal with it doesn’t go away just because they’re a tiny team.
However, despite the Explorer Pack being designed with smaller teams in mind, the Omidyar Network is finding that in practice organizations of all shapes and sizes like academic departments, government services, and large corporations are also finding it useful for helping to frame their conversations about developing new products and services or evaluating current ones.
Like other guests on the series, Sarah raised the point that ethics isn’t just a way of saying no to things, it’s not solely a risk evaluation tool, but also a very important strategic driver for change, particularly in hiring: both in the UK through a Doteveryone survey in 2018 and more recently in the US, Omidyar Network has been able to show that technologists working in some of the most in-demand roles are demanding that their employers demonstrate values that match their own: being perceived as an ethical employer is a powerful draw in a competitive market for talent.
You can find out more about the ethical explorer pack at www.ethicalexplorer.org.