Texas’ efforts of becoming a tech haven are now facing the threat of collapsing over the State’s restrictive laws, which many believe to be a regressive measure on women’s rights.
Big tech companies and start-ups have been attracted to Texas over the last years, with renowned names such as Tesla’s Elon Musk, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard settling in the Lone Star State, with increased presence through the opening of warehouses and data centers of giants such as Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.
However, Texas’ sudden shift to maximum restriction mode on human rights coupled with the lowest health measures on pandemic handling, has pushed many CEOs from important tech companies to consider alternatives for their company’s operations in Texas.
Many industry leaders have expressed their concerns both on their employee’s wellbeing and the effects these new laws would have on recruiting talent from Texas, as more and more people reflect on the possibility of moving elsewhere.
“We already find it extremely challenging to attract tech workers,” said Vivek Bhaskaran, the chief executive of Austin-based QuestionPro, noting there are more jobs than talent in the industry. “This seems like an extremely unnecessary conversation we’re going to have to have” with potential recruits.
“I’m not a politician; I can’t change anything. But I’m still responsible for my employees in Texas, and I have a moral responsibility to them,” Bhaskaran added.
As reported by The Chron, Texas led the nation in population growth in 2020 attracting 373,965 residents, and while experts say it’s too early to tell whether the new laws will cause any massive change in worker migration, they note that right-wing measures could lead to a pause of left-leaning tech workers considering moving to the state.
“You might see a slowdown,” said Richard Alm, a writer in residence at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business in Dallas who studies Texas’ economy. “This has potential to impact the supply of labor if workers are less willing to relocate to Texas.”
The main concern of tech industry leaders is the path Texas will take after imposing restrictive measures on human rights, such as voting restrictions and abortion bans which impact employees and talent recruitment.
CEOs have been openly speaking out against the restrictions, offering alternatives to their employees in the event they choose to move elsewhere.
“Ohana if you want to move we’ll help you exit TX. Your choice”. Tweeted Salesforce’s CEO, Marc Benioff. Tweet that was quoted by California’s Governor Gavin Newsom who replied “Welcome to California”.
According to CNBC, Lyft and Uber both announced that they would pay legal costs for any drivers who are sued for transporting women to get abortions, and online dating company Bumble said it had started a fund to help people seeking abortions in the state.
“These are incredibly personal issues that directly impact many of us — especially women,” Salesforce told employees in a message recovered by CNBC. “We recognize and respect that we all have deeply held and different perspectives. As a company, we stand with all of our women at Salesforce and everywhere.”
The note continues, “With that being said, if you have concerns about access to reproductive healthcare in your state, Salesforce will help relocate you and members of your immediate family.”