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Human Capital: Moving away from master/slave terminology

TGIF, am I right? Welcome back to Human Capital, where we explore some of the latest news in labor, and diversity and inclusion in tech.
This week, were looking at the use of master/slave terminology in computer programming and the current state of gig workers in California.
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Stay Woke



GitHub to sunset master/slave terminology


This probably isnt news to developers, but it was news to me when I found out many tech companies still use slave-master language. Now, Microsoft-owned GitHub is gearing up to remove these references to slavery by naming primary code repositories main instead of master. These changes will go into effect on October 1.
GitHub talked about making these changes as early as June, when CEO Nat Friedman tweeted that it was something the company was already working on. But GitHub is by no means the first company to consider and make these changes. In 2014, open source platform Drupal moved to replace master/slave with primary/replica.
One of its reasons for making the change was, The word slave has negative connotations (although this might or might not be relevant in the naming of a technical term) including multi-century history of slavery to benefit European colonial powers, prison laborers today forced to work in conditions at times resembling that slavery, young girls sold into sex slavery in many parts of the world today.
Then, in 2018, programming language python ditched the racist terminology. Meanwhile, Twitter began taking steps to replace those terms earlier this year and hopes to finish replacing that terminology by the end of 2021, according to CNET.
Whats wild is that these terms ever existed in the first place and are just now being addressed. While Los Angeles city officials way back in 2003 asked its manufacturers and suppliers to stop using the terminology, they did not require it.
So perhaps its no wonder why some tech companies struggle to retain Black employees. In 2019, for example, Google reported its attrition rates of Black and Latinx talent which indicate the rate at which employees leave on an annual basis were higher than the national average. When racism is built into the technical framework of a company, it perpetuates a false idea that white people are superior to Black people.



Gig Work



The latest in the battle over Prop 22 and AB 5


Two big things are happening pertaining to gig workers: Prop 22, the California bill backed by Uber, Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash that seeks to keep workers classified as independent contractors and lawsuits rooted in AB 5, the California law that went into effect earlier this year that lays out how to properly classify gig workers.
Lets start with Prop 22. A new poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found that its going to be a close election. In a survey of 5,900 likely voters, UC Berkeleys IGS found that 39% of voters would vote yes on Prop 22 while 36% said they would vote no. The other 25% are undecided.
As we mentioned last week, the Yes on 22 campaign has put in about $180 million into the campaign while the No on 22 side has put in about $4.6 million. Meanwhile, were seeing ads for Yes on 22 inside on-demand apps.
Human Capital: Moving away from master/slave terminology
Image Credits:Screenshot of DoorDash app via TechCrunch
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