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Here’s How Big Tech’s CEOs Have Reacted to America’s Raging Protests

Leaders of some of the US’s largest technology firms are speaking up on the demonstrations sweeping the US, in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. Some with apparent sincerity, some under pressure from their employees. Promises range from financial contributions to black ribbons.

(Airbnb, Google and Sony meanwhile are among those to have delayed product launches and virtual events — including the high-profile June 4 news event for the upcoming Playstation 5 — in deference to the US protests).

Here’s what some of the biggest companies’ leaders had to say.

Banner image credit: Clay Banks

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A mural where George Floyd was killed by a police officer kneeling on his neck.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

Cisco’s CEO Chuck Robbins was one of the first leaders of a tech blue chip to comment, describing (perhaps somewhat ambiguously) “what’s happening” in the US as “abhorrent” and adding that it’s “far overdue for all of us to take action to eradicate systematic racism, xenophobia, inequality…”

He added (less ambiguously) early Tuesday that Cisco will donate $5 million to the Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP, Black Lives Matter and other organisations, along with “our own fund for fighting racism and discrimination.”

It’s one of the larger donations we’ve seen from a technology firm.

Intel CEO Bob Swan

Intel’s CEO Bob Swan wrote to employees to emphasise that he viewed the “senseless acts of racism and violence that recently took the lives of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd” as “abhorrent and wrong.”

“We call for an end to acts of racism, inequity and social injustice” he added.

Intel has pledged $1 million “in support of efforts to address social injustice and anti-racism across various nonprofits and community organizations.” (The company did not name the organisations that it was donating the money to).

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in a LinkedIn post that recent deaths at the hands of police “bring to light the inequality, bias, prejudice and racism that people have dealt with for far too long.”

He added: “We cannot lose sight of the fact that racism is tearing our communities apart. One lesson we should all learn is that silent carriers help spread racism. This is why it falls on all of us to do away with the legacy of bias, prejudice and racism that has led to these unspeakable events.

IBM had yet to pledge any funds, but Red Hat’s CEO Paul Cormier said that Red Hat “will be making an [unspecified] financial contribution… to be selected by our Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity community”.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said: “There is no place for hate and racism in our society. Empathy and shared understanding are a start, but we must do more. I stand with the Black and African American community and we are committed to building on this work in our company and in our communities.”

Computer Business Review has yet to see any financial pledges from the company, which said it will be “using our platform to amplify voices from the Black and African American community at Microsoft.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said “on US Google and Youtube homepages we share our support for racial equality”.

This came in the form of a black ribbon on the hompages.

Google will match any employee contribution up to $10,000, Pichai said in a memo to employees obtained by Business Insider.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook Tweeted to call for “justice”.

Cook said in a memo to employees spotted by Bloomberg that Apple would make donations to the Equal Justice Initiative, along with several other groups, and would be matching all employee donations two-for-one in June.

“George Floyd’s death is shocking and tragic proof that we must aim far higher than a ‘normal’ future, and build one that lives up to the highest ideals of equality and justice,” Cook reportedly wrote.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged $10 million to organisations “working on racial justice.”

The promise late Monday came amid a revolt by employees in the wake of its decision not to censor President Donald’s Trump comments saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. (Twitter had flagged the Tweet as inciting violence).

This Monday Zuckerberg wrote on his official Facebook page: “I know Facebook needs to do more to support equality and safety for the Black community through our platforms.

“… it’s clear Facebook also has more work to do to keep people safe and ensure our systems don’t amplify bias.

“The organizations fighting for justice also need funding, so Facebook is committing an additional $10 million to groups working on racial justice.”

Amazon CEO  Jeff Bezos

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has yet to make any pledges of financial support for organisations working towards racial justice.

Bezos shared a May 29 essay by Shenequa Golding (“Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is….A Lot“) on his Instagram page, saying “the pain and emotional trauma caused by the racism and violence we are witnessing toward the black community has a long reach.”

Oracle CEO  Larry Ellison 

We could not immediately see any comment from either Oracle CEO Larry Ellison or his company. If we’ve missed it, let us know.

 
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CBR Staff Writer

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