Building Your Tech Ethics: Role Models

Jenn Sydeski
2 min readDec 23, 2019


Do’s and Don’ts from those already operating

Okay, so I really hate reading other companies’ ethics statements. I mean, maybe there are some great ones, but I have yet to find them.

They suck.
They are boring.
They are fluffy and intangible.

I’m a gritty person. If I wasn’t going to do this in life, I was going to be an automechanic. I like something tangible and textured that I can see and feel and interact with- something where you can make sense of the moving parts.

So after glazing over for the 20th time with my assignment to review others’ ethics statements (from this program), I decided that these crappy and generic write-ups were neither useful guides nor comparisons for my company’s ethics program.

Realistically, though I needed something to compare, of course. Other companies did things well and poorly, so I did a web search for ethical issues in business, and reviewed some of the bigger recent stories, then moved on to specifically looking at our peers and competitors. I came up with a couple of useful touchstones- this one increased users’ anxiety and that one delivered low quality data, but the real gold came from user reviews online and in chat forums. While I’m learning about data and security and consent, independently (the less visible ethical questions) the things that really touch users were right there, often in all caps, for me to peruse.

So I started bucketing the reviews and comments based on what the company is doing that’s deserving of a few moments to write about, whether this is something that we want to do as well or not, and what we can do to ensure we meet that do or don’t we found.

If you would like to see an example of the tool we use, here:
Ethics Infrastructure Tool 2 - Peers & Competitors

~This is part of a Start-Up Tech Ethics series.~

Want to join a small group of folks knee-deep in tech ethics to chat, share resources, and challenge each other?
Apply here.



Jenn Sydeski

CEO of Connect Wolf, professor, tinkerer, operations nerd, recovering scientist, and mama.