Alphabet posted a new code of conduct for its employees after Google completed its transformation into a holding company.
Google’s code of conduct was famous for its first line “Don’t be evil” and the act did spawn a lot of comment when the search engine started to behave a “bit evil”. Some of this evil involved cheating the tax system so that it did not have to help pay for health, welfare and education.
Alphabet’s code doesn’t include that phrase. Instead, it says employees of Alphabet and its subsidiaries “should do the right thing – follow the law, act honourably, and treat each other with respect”.
This change is telling. Sometimes Google can argue that doing the right thing can mean doing the evil thing. For example, and we don’t mean to harp on about this, doing the right thing for profits and share prices means paying as little tax as possible and exploiting any legal loopholes you can find.
The vast majority of Alphabet employees will still be Google employees, part of the core search-and-advertising unit that is the new holding company’s biggest division. Those workers are still covered by Google’s code of conduct and the “Don’t be evil” motto.
Google’s code of conduct is much longer than Alphabet’s. It includes things like drinking alcohol at work is OK, but not too much. Dogs are allowed in the office but cats are discouraged. This makes it very difficult to be an evil overlord as everyone knows you are supposed to have a white cat to stroke.
A Google spokesman said that Alphabet companies may of course have their own codes to ensure they continue to promote compliance and great values.
“But if they start bringing cats to work, there’s gonna be trouble with a capital T.”