Viewed as a target, IT moves so quickly the reptilian minds that make up state and federal politicians and operatives simply haven't been able to keep up. Consequently, IT has become something akin to a crash test dummy for regulatory opportunity-cost tradeoffs.
So far, very little regulation has yielded lots of opportunity. Still, it isn't beyond the realm of reason that government imposed regulation, on balance, be better. There are, after all, good cases to be made for regulations preventing the free-rider problems that plague libertarianism, tout court.
Apparently, the norm for IT startups is to do IT, and put HR on disregard:
The Stanford Project on Emerging Companies, a longitudinal study of 200 Silicon Valley start-ups during the first dot-com boom, found that tech entrepreneurs gave little thought to human resources. Nearly half of the companies left it up to employees to shape the culture and perform traditional human resource tasks. Only 6.6 percent had the type of formal personnel management seen at typical companies.
Bureaucratic H.R. is “loathed” by engineers because it adds costs and slows decision-making, the leaders of the study, James N. Baron and Michael T. Hannan, wrote in a paper in California Management Review.
In a seeming contradiction to that freewheeling attitude, Ms. Miller notes that "Yet a human resource department is essential. The two found that companies with bureaucratic personnel departments were nearly 40 percent less likely to fail than the norm, and nearly 40 percent more likely to go public — data that would strike many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs as heresy."
Perhaps. Other results muddy the picture somewhere between a bit and a lot, and certainly don't substantiate Ms. Miller's assertion that HR departments are "essential". And she should note that quoting a professor at the Yale School of Management about how essential management is probably doesn't qualify as the top story of the day.
Where this turns into another battle in the #WarOnWymyn is with GitHub:
The web service, for sharing and collaborating on software code, has been under fire after a female engineer named Julie Ann Horvath quit and described a culture toward women of bullying and disrespect.
Hovarth's side of the story, very briefly summarized, is that she had a hard time getting used to the culture, its aggressive communication, and "… how little the men she worked with respected and valued her opinion." Accordingly, she decided she was being ostracized solely on account of her gender. Other issues — comprising about 75% of the whole story — came from the wife of one of GitHubs co-founders bullying her, living with a male co-worker, and boorish behavior from another co-worker she had spurned. Oh, and men ogling female employees who were hula-hooping at the office.
To the extent that male co-workers demeaned her simply because of her gender,* then that is indeed reprehensible. If that is what happened, then Ms. Miller has a point — maybe IT startups do need HR departments to step on rank sexism.
But wars have more than one side. Some environments are both competitive and largely, if not exclusively, male. Men are pack animals. One of the consequences is hostility to those who don't, for reasons of personality or competence, fit in with the pack. In previous lives where the environment was both competitive and male, I saw, and was part of, packs that quickly, and with no regard for anyone's feelings, shunned those who didn't fit. At the time they were all white males, so the pack was hardly cutting any slack with regard to "privilege".**
So it could well be that her GitHub coworkers, being in a competitive environment, and largely male, did what packs do, and turned on someone who couldn't hack the program.
If so, then Ms. Miller's thesis that IT startups need HR departments really amounts to a #WaronMen. Men in a male environment must conform to women's tender sensibilities, because maleness is de facto wrong. Yet that is a conclusion devoid of an argument. If that is the way men congenitally react to those who don't fit in, or lack merit, regardless of gender, then that is no more or less "right" than demanding concessions to female sensibilities.
Oh, and perhaps the hula-hooping women were getting exactly the reaction they wanted.
*An intra-GitHub anonymous messaging system included this comment "Internally, 'Queen' [Hovarth] has a history of RAGING against any professional criticism. Leadership has stood idly by while she lied about contributions, threw hardworking coworkers under the bus (again and again) and spread vicious rumors about women at work and in the community."
Hovarth's degree is a BA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco. That doesn't mean she wasn't qualified to be a programmer; if there is any realm that rewards autodidacts, programming is it. However, and probably because I'm a woman h8r, I think the odds are she wasn't any good at her job.
** In subsequent lives, where the environment remained the same, but included a few women, shunning women who weren't hacking the program was far more circumspect than for men.