Daily Rumination No. 29: What Royal Commission?

I spotted an update from LinkedIn today called Top Companies 2019: Where Australia wants to work now. Here is the opening paragraph that explains the purpose of the update and how it is put together:

‘Every year, our editors and data scientists parse billions of actions taken by LinkedIn members around the world to uncover the companies that are attracting the most attention from jobseekers and then hanging on to that talent. The data-driven approach looks at what members are doing — not just saying — in their search for fulfilling careers. The result of that data is Top Companies, our 4th annual ranking of the most sought-after companies today.’

I was shocked to see that the four top companies in the list for 2019 are:

  1. Westpac Group;
  2. National Australia Bank (NAB);
  3. ANZ; and
  4. Commonwealth Bank.

Yes, that’s right… the Big Four banks are the most desirable Australian employers. How can this be? Has no one heard of the recent Royal Commission into the Australian banking sector? These massive institutions drove their own employees to screw customers in completely illegal and unethical ways. One of the most unbelievable findings was that Commonwealth Bank had been charging dead customers for over a decade. Aside from the investigation, there has also been considerable negative sentiment online over three of the banks’ prolonged, public refusal to adopt Apple Pay.

I have no doubt that people are enthusiastic about working for such large and successful companies, however, I do believe that this article is evidence of why a ‘data-driven approach’ is not always best. Just because there is a lot of chatter about the companies on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that they’re decent employers. What could we have learnt with a more human, qualitative approach? ‘LinkedIn Insights’ can only tell you so much.

The article also includes a little ‘What may surprise you’ section under each employer. Rather than mentioning anything ‘surprising’ about despicable, scandalous behaviour, LinkedIn spends time talking about leave, gender diversity, leave for volunteering and involvement in the Special Olympics. How lovely…

People trust social media like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as their news sources and quickly become absorbed in such information bubbles. If this is the sort of lazy reporting that big tech companies are going to continue to publish and share, that’s not good. What’s even more concerning to me is the idea that LinkedIn’s data could in fact be representative of people’s attitude towards the banks. Do people really have no moral compass?