Monday, 9 May 2005

Microsoft's climbdown and thoughts on creative cities

Salon notes Microsoft's version 3.0 of its policy on gay rights, in which Microsoft has agreed to support legislation that eliminates discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Steve Ballmer's email to Microsoft employees says it all:
I’ve concluded that diversity in the workplace is such an important issue for our business that it should be included in our legislative agenda... Accordingly, Microsoft will continue to join other leading companies in supporting federal legislation that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

As Farhard Majoo writes in that Salon article:
Microsoft is the king of an industry whose chief raw material is human creativity, and whose main fuel is brain power. As the economist Richard Florida has pointed out, such well-educated employees often care about where their firms stands on important social issues. The kind of people who are drawn to software engineering tend to be progressives on issues like gay rights (that's why, incidentally, the tech economy is centered in California, not Kansas).
That last sentence made me think about some of the readings I did while writing my college thesis - I looked into the idea that workers are indeed moving to cities, and firms are following workers (the book by Florida hadn't come out yet), and wondered whether income levels had anything to do with that.

I suppose that last phrase hints at that general idea of jobs following workers: that software-engineering types move to California because of the cultural climate - more progressive on gay rights, for instance - and then are likely to find jobs thereabouts, or start their own firms there. But it could also be read to mean "Californians are generally more progressive than residents of Kansas, and they also are more likely to become software engineers", which would take out the whole human-movement element that I think is a crucial part of the narrative.



richard florida = more urban planner than economist? Businessweek's recent criticism of his new book noted that one problem was that he was not an economist...


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