Missionaries not Mercenaries: developers who give a shit

Are you a mercenary or a missionary? Lured by the promise of a big pay packet, would you write code that will actively harm other humans? Most developers steer clear of overtly illegal activities (e.g. writing malware or building chrome extensions that steal people’s bitcoin) but how about ethically questionable activities? Some of the biggest employers in tech are online gambling purveyors, resource extraction companies offering exciting data science challenges and algorithmic trading firms that widen wealth inequality. On the flip side, other companies are emerging that focus on solving societal problems like climate change, healthcare access, lack of affordable quality education and wealth inequality.

On the surface it seems like a tradeoff between getting a higher salary and making a difference. Is this true? Is there really a salary divide between the for-impact sector and other employers? Can you really make a difference if you work for a mission driven company? Is the world better off if you earn a lot of money and donate it to charity rather than working on these issues yourself?

These questions fall under the philosophy of effective altruism. In this talk, I will present market data on salaries in the for-impact sector, discuss a methodology for calculating the net societal impact of your work, explore whether taking a big salary at an ethically questionable company and donating the excess to charity can absolve the potential damage and showcase a free, non-profit jobs board for for-impact tech jobs: programmerswhogiveashit.com

  1.  Just World License: open source license that precludes use by organisations that are involved in sex trafficking, slavery, gambling, tobacco and other unethical industries.
  2.  Rapid impact assessment tool from B Corp that assesses whether your organisation is making a net positive impact on society
  3.  ProgrammersWhoGiveAShit.com – free job board for roles in impact focused organisations