Google has finally succumbed to the inevitable and removed the phrase ‘don't be evil' from its corporate Code of Conduct. The phrase had been included since the company's inception, although widely regarded as having become redundant a long time ago.
The change occurred some time in the last month, after the company revised its Code of Conduct, which all employees are expected to abide by.
Alphabet, the shell company created to house Google and the company's various other (much less profitable) projects, dropped the phrase back in 2015. Instead, it adopted some bland phraseology, such as "avoid conflicts of interest", "obey the law" and the pithy "ensure financial integrity and responsibility".
But it has continued to embody a key element of Google's culture, if not its operations. You can compare and contrast the difference for yourself. Here's the old code:
"Googlers generally apply those words to how we serve our users. But "Don't be evil" is much more than that. Yes, it's about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can. But it's also about doing the right thing more generally - following the law, acting honorably, and treating co-workers with courtesy and respect."
And here's the new one:
"The Google Code of Conduct is one of the ways we put Google's values into practice. It's built around the recognition that everything we do in connection with our work at Google will be, and should be, measured against the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct.
"We set the bar that high for practical as well as aspirational reasons: Our commitment to the highest standards helps us hire great people, build great products, and attract loyal users. Respect for our users, for the opportunity, and for each other are foundational to our success, and are something we need to support every day."
However, not all mentions of ‘evil' have been expunged from the corporate Code of Conduct.
Right at the bottom, it contains the line: "And remember… don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right - speak up!"
This, though, is probably an oversight that will be removed in the next update.
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