Recruiting User Experience talent within the Fintech sector enables me to engage with some of the most talented players in the business. However, this comes at a price; Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). It also seems that I am not alone in this, as Sam Shead's article on secrecy with Apple highlights.
Whilst employees must show discretion in respect of the projects that they are working on, being contractually hamstrung is causing issues when people want to change jobs. Simply put, the prospective employer wants to see the candidates work to properly assess them in advance of a potential meeting, but this cannot be sent because of the NDA. The result is that often no interview can take place and that the prospective employer may be losing out on key talent because of this policy.
Apple also seems to have a similar problem in that they have strict confidentiality clauses in their contracts, which potential employees are not keen on committing to as it excludes them from speaking at conferences and participating within the research community.
As Yann LeCun says, the way he gets his most talented people to join Facebook is by "Offering researchers the possibility of doing open research, which is publishing their work".
Maybe it is time for other businesses to follow suit?
Apple is one of the most secretive technology companies in the world, with the Cupertino tech giant typically only providing public updates when it has a new product to announce. Part of this secrecy involves getting employees to sign strict contracts that forbid them from talking to their friends and family about certain aspects of their work, particularly research and development (R&D) activities. Unlike Facebook and Google, which let employees publish their academic breakthroughs in scientific journals and on blogs, Apple prevents its staff from talking about their research both online and offline. They're allowed to attend conferences but they don't give talks about what Apple is working on and they generally only disclose their employer when they're asked to.