Google’s new multi-faceted face, Alphabet, published their corporation-wide code of conduct on Friday and “Don’t Be Evil” was notably absent. The rather broad, but well-intentioned motto has served Google well for over a decade, but it, along with a good chunk of other rules, have not made the cut for Alphabet’s general code of conduct. Although Google as a subsidiary retains “Don’t Be Evil”, Alphabet’s modus operandi is a slightly broader “Do The Right Thing”. The message is still there, but it is a surprise to see the famous slogan being essentially retired. Employees are urged to obey the law, respect one another and act honorably.
Quirkier Google rules such as being a “dog company” and discouraging feline visitors on the grounds that they would be stressed out have been abolished, presumably to allow each subsidiary to create their own company culture. Googlers can still drink at work and the signature relatively lax rules surrounding conflicts of interest. Rules at the top, governing the entire Alphabet company, are mostly common sense rules, such as spending company money wisely, not accepting bribes and the use of non-public information to buy and sell Alphabet stock.
Alphabet employees’ general code of conduct is quite short and to the point, spelling out the essentials quite succinctly to prevent any subsidiaries from creating serious trouble like violations of the law or painting the company in a bad light. The heart and soul of Google is alive and well at Alphabet and the core business features that make up Google as a subsidiary are still governed by its specific, light-hearted code of conduct. The conclusion to be drawn here is that business should continue mostly as usual for those outside the company, but each subsidiary will be able to bring their own rules, culture and work life into play, allowing different views and work ethics to govern different types of work.
It remains to be seen how this wil go over in the long run, but the new code of conduct seems poised to enforce the just and good-willed spirit Google has always strived for, with enough wiggle room for each company to plant their own roots and do things their way.