It's Possible to Build a Big, Important Tech Company That Is Ethical, Too

This shouldn't be a radical idea, but somehow here we are. At Glitch, we're building that company. One that's here to push the tech world to do better and do nothing less than set the standard for thoughtful and ethical practices in tech.

A startup 20 years in the making

We started out as Fog Creek Software, an independent tech company that always put people first. We pioneered remote-working and private offices for creative workers more than a decade ago. Now we're building the friendliest, most inclusive, and welcoming social platform on the internet.
Our approach begins with solid fundamentals. We're built with sustainability in mind, and that extends to the way we're funded too: We're independent, privately held, and transparent and open in our business model and processes. That gives us the freedom to make the best choices for the long-term interests of Glitch and our community.

A healthy community, by design

Unlike other social networks, we've put the safety and health of our users first since day one. That means pro-actively considering vectors for abuse when we design new features. And we've hired community health engineers whose job is to think through the impact that product developments have on the community. The result is a healthy community by design. Oh, and we'll never tolerate hate speech - it's not actually complicated.

The best place to work in tech

We're doubling-down on providing the best place to work in the entire tech industry. Each person has both private and collaborative workspaces. We respect working hours because we know our staff does their best work when they have work/life balance. Coworkers don't even @mention each other in Slack when they're not working, and we have almost no email.

But that's just where we start. Pay transparency is a cornerstone of how Glitch treats employees. We want staff to know they're being paid fairly. All job listings include a salary range, and we share salary ranges by role internally so that no-one has to worry that other folks are being paid differently for doing the same work. We respect everyone's contributions toward our goals regardless of their role, so executive pay is capped at 5X the lowest salary.

The Glitch team

We don't want our staff to have to worry about their health either, or that of their family. That's why we've always offered complete health insurance for every employee. We provide great health insurance with a really high deductible and then we pay the entire deductible. There are unlimited sick days, and we have generous policies in place should folks need to take care of a sick family member.

While we're proud to be headquartered in New York City, about half of our employees are remote. We have a strong remote work culture and all of our meetings are online, regardless of who is attending, so everyone can contribute as well as each other. At the start of each meeting, we run an app, on Glitch of course, that picks out a note-taker. This is so that we each take turns keeping notes because we know that otherwise women or other underrepresented team members often feel unduly obligated to handle such tasks.

Inclusion efforts that aren't just platitudes

While we're off to a good start, there is a lot more work left to do. Like most tech companies that have been around for two decades, we used to be a really homogenous place. Unlike most tech companies, we admit that we screwed up and we're not making any excuses for it. Our inclusion efforts aren't just platitudes. We're making real changes to build a more inclusive culture.

It starts from the top - we have a CEO who's a vocal advocate for underrepresented workers in tech, and we've changed everything from our recruiting and ally skills training to the way we design our products, all with a goal of ensuring we're a place that's welcoming and supportive to everyone. And unlike most companies our size, we don't shy away from sharing diversity stats either.

Practicing what we preach

We can't promise we won't make mistakes but we can promise to try and fix them. We aim to be on the inside what we hope to inspire on the outside. After all, it's impossible to trust a company if you know they don't practice what they preach. That's why we're committed to zero gaps between our stated and lived values. And that's why our employee handbook is public and open-source. It spells out how our company runs day-to-day, it's what we use to help new employees get up to speed, and what our employees refer to when they want to know about company policies.

Most people of conscience are rightly worried about the effect that tech companies are having on civil society and culture. But in response, few companies seem to be trying to always do the right thing. At Glitch, we take pride in being part of an organization that is still trying. And our community, partners, and industry colleagues seem delighted by such optimism. But most importantly, we want to prove that a group of people can still create a healthy community, a successful business, and have a meaningful impact on society, all while being ethically sound.