- We’re peeling back the curtain in a first-of-its-kind project examining Silicon Valley secrecy.
- Want to participate in our reporting process? Please consider sending us a copy of your NDA.
- Help us tell the definitive story of how money and power enforced silence across an entire industry.
It’s no secret that much of what goes on every day in Silicon Valley is, well, secret. In an effort to pierce through how and why nondisclosure agreements have become such a bedrock of Silicon Valley culture, Insider is collecting copies of NDA agreements from workers. And we’re doing it during Sunshine Week, a national collective effort to improve government transparency and combat excessive secrecy, spearheaded by the News Leaders Association and adopted by dozens of open government groups.
The idea is simple: to apply the same transparency principles of Sunshine Week to the workplace by dissecting nondisclosure agreements. The documents themselves, combined with stories we are hearing from sources about the culture surrounding NDAs at their workplace, will serve as the foundation of a first-of-its kind reporting project: the definitive story of how money and power enforced silence across an entire industry.
Want to participate in our reporting process? Please consider sending us a copy of your NDA.
We realize that this is a sensitive topic; many of you may be wondering what is out there in these agreements or how yours stacks up. By sharing a copy of your NDA, you can help Insider place it in the larger context of the tech industry’s culture of secrecy. And we will do everything in our power to protect your identity should you wish to remain anonymous. I talk with anonymous sources every day – I wouldn’t be able to do my job without them. Ready to help?
Send me a copy of your nondisclosure agreement via any of these methods.
- Email: email@example.com
- Encrypted text via Signal, WhatsApp or Telegram: +1(626) 233-1063
- Snail mail:
Attn: Matt Drange
535 Mission Street, 14th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Regardless of which method you choose, Insider’s default handling of your agreement will be to keep your identity confidential. In other words, unless you give us your consent, your name will not appear in connection with this project.
We are analyzing both of the most common types of nondisclosure agreements: the general agreements you sign when starting a job, as well as the specific, often superseding agreements that are sometimes reached when you leave a job. In many cases, these agreements include strict confidentiality provisions about experiences on the job and/or ‘clawback’ provisions tied to compensation.
I often hear from sources who are unsure what they can and cannot say as a result of their NDA, sometimes years after they’ve left a prior job. In many cases, these agreements have the practical effect of silencing employees trying to blow the whistle about sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and other forms of workplace discrimination.
My aim at Insider is to bring this important discussion to the surface and figure out how broad and, in some cases, overreaching, nondisclosure agreements have become. In recent years the practice of using these agreements has come under scrutiny, in large part because of the increased attention and awareness surrounding workplace harassment and misconduct in the wake of the #MeToo movement. And yet, discussions among rank and file tech employees about NDA agreements largely takes place in the shadows.
How does your nondisclosure agreement compare to your friends’? How do agreements differ from large, publicly traded companies to small, lean startups? How did boilerplate language first become adopted and when did it become widespread? And where is the line between nondisclosure and nondisparagement, which are frequently tied together in the same document?
I’ll work hard to answer these questions and many more. With your help, I’ll be able to provide insight and common knowledge across an often opaque industry. In short: we can build a community together around transparency.
Do you have a story about discrimination or harassment in the workplace? Help inform my reporting and get in touch with me directly, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving me a voicemail message at +1(646) 376-6021.
Of course, I can’t provide legal advice about an agreement’s provisions or enforceability or tell you how you should navigate an HR situation at work. (You should consult with a lawyer for specific questions there.) But with your help, I can assemble an informed, detailed report about the role of nondisclosure agreements in the modern workplace, including challenges and tensions arising from them and what your company is — or isn’t — doing to address it.
I look forward to reporting back what I learn soon. In the meantime, happy Sunshine Week.