“…ethics advisory boards can easily become a smoke-and-mirrors attempt to mask business as usual under the guise of social responsibility.”
Yeah, I’ve had that same feeling for a good while now. About five years or so ago, I got an invite to attend a conference in the Valley called “Techmanity” on this very topic. It was actually a pretty interesting few days, but almost no one showed up. I had the sense that few corporations actually cared too deeply for the topic and, the only reason the sponsorship $$$ was clearly there was so they could say “hey, we participated in this amazing ethics thing.” The only session that was even remotely well-attended was one where Jared Leto lead a panel discussion. So, it was a couple days of panel discussions, networking with VCs, and attending free concerts (Weezer and Thievery Corporation, actually!) … and then we never heard anything from the event again. Like Google’s effort, I guess it just fizzled.