Sun was one of the first companies to open the blogging floodgates, officially. We wrote a policy document to help keep people out of trouble. Many others in our industry followed our lead. There was a lot of worry around the business that empowering ordinary employees to talk to the world could lead to damaging leaks and get us or them in trouble. Hah.
Just to quote from the Sun Guidelines on Public Discourse:
Business Outlook Rules
There are all sorts of laws about what we can and can’t say business-wise. Talking about revenue, future product ship dates, pricing decisions, roadmaps, unannounced financial results, our share price or similar matters is apt to get you, the company, or both, into serious legal trouble. Stay away from financial topics and predictions of future performance.
This was accompanied with lots of pointers to the perfectly-clear written company policy on the subject.
I note, with some pride, that we’ve had maybe ten thousand person-years of blogging since we launched, and we’ve never had any material disclosures or legal trouble. Nor have I heard of any over at IBM or Microsoft or Oracle or any of the other companies who empower their people.
[Yes, in the five years, there’ve been a small (single-digit) number of takedowns; one moron caught in rank plagiarism, another enthusiast applying a pure math/engineering analysis to the future direction of our share price; but never anything really dangerous at the corporate level.]
The Real Risk · It doesn’t come from your line staff but from your executives and their Wall-Street-hedgie-scum friends. Read it and weep, and if you really want to get depressed, read the actual text of the legal complaint (PDF).
These bastards were allegedly leaking Sun quarterlies from inside the IBM-Sun acquisition due-diligence process! If the government’s allegations are true, they are not just lawbreakers, they have dishonored some pretty damn great companies and a profession that I care a whole lot about.
The next person who suggests to me that it might be risky to empower ordinary employees is apt to get their head bitten off.