Today I read this article about Google and its presence in China.
Google is considering withdrawing from China completely because of the continued internet censorship and China-based cyber attacks on human rights activists using its Gmail service. Google is the second largest search engine in China, and China has the largest number of internet users on the world. A withdrawal would be a values based decision. Google"s mantra is "Do no evil", and they went through a lot of soul searching during the process of entering China in the first place. The loss of immediate revenue would be considerable.
In this interview Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, describes his culture as a competitive advantage. I have spent time working with Google as a client and found their culture and values to be very alive. Their core value is the statement ‘do no evil’.
They got some poor press for this around the time when they went into China, and were struggling with the Chinese government’s attempts to control the content that was visible to Chinese users. My experience of them from the inside was that they treated the situation as a true ‘values dilemma’. I see the role of a good values statement to ensure that you ask the right set of questions. Values create the right conversations in the many instances where a situation seems grey, not black or white. Was it more important to provide internet access to Chinese people, even under restricted conditions, or not to provide it at all? What I admire about Google is that they have those conversations, vigorously, because they feel passionate about what they stand for. They made their decisions within the context of the right conversation.