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.
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.
What’s happening in the US is abhorrent. It’s far overdue for all of us to take action to eradicate systemic racism, xenophobia, inequality & all forms of bigotry in America. How we respond will be an important moment in our nation’s history. @Cisco will lead. #blacklivesmatter
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 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”.
.@RedHat stands in solidarity with the Black community – our colleagues, customers, partners and neighbors – and all who are hurting right now in the fight against racism and injustice. pic.twitter.com/XlaXQ5iyUp
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.”
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. https://t.co/WaEuhRqBho
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.
Today on US Google & YouTube homepages we share our support for racial equality in solidarity with the Black community and in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery & others who don’t have a voice. For those feeling grief, anger, sadness & fear, you are not alone. pic.twitter.com/JbPCG3wfQW
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.
Minneapolis is grieving for a reason. To paraphrase Dr. King, the negative peace which is the absence of tension is no substitute for the positive peace which is the presence of justice. Justice is how we heal.