Over the last few weeks, a spotlight has been shone on racial tension in the United States and the divide that still remains. Driven by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, protests have extended to other nations. Microsoft has now offered its support to the Black Lives Matter movement that is seeking change in racial inequality.
In an open letter sent to employees and customers, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company stand beside protestors seeking real change. Furthermore, he said Microsoft will do more to drive inclusiveness within the company.
It’s probably better to simple post the full letter rather than attempt to analyze it. Check out the full text below:
Satya Nadella Email
“An email from CEO Satya Nadella to Microsoft employees:
Seeing injustice in the world calls us all to take action, as individuals and as a company. Sometimes this action is personal – what do I do to change? Sometimes it is organizational – what changes do I need to make around me? And sometimes it is reflected into the world – what can we do as a company to accelerate the change we desire? As we see the everyday racism, bias and violence experienced by the Black and African American community, the tragic and horrific murders of so many, the violence in cities across the US, it is time for us to act in all arenas. As I shared in our Employee Town Hall last week, each of us – starting with me and the senior leaders at the company – has a role to play. We cannot episodically wake up when a new tragedy occurs. A systemic problem requires a holistic response.
I am heartbroken by the deep pain our communities are feeling. The results of systemic racism, which have impacted opportunities and exacerbated injustices for Black and African American communities, urge me to consider my own role as a leader. I must continue my journey of understanding and empathy and examine actions I take, or don’t take, every day. Listening and learning from my Black and African American colleagues is helping me develop a better understanding of their experience. And I take accountability for my own continued learning on the realities of privilege, inequity and race and modeling the behavior I want to see in the world.
As a company, we need to look inside, examine our organization, and do better. For us to have the permission to ask the world to change, we must change first. We have to embrace the same speed and mindset that we do in anticipating and building for future technological shifts. Each day, we work to bridge the gap between the culture we espouse and our daily lived experience, but we must do more and do it faster. In order to be successful as a business in empowering everyone on the planet, we need to reflect the world we serve. This is our commitment; we have goals and programs to improve representation in all roles and at all levels. We’re investing in the talent pipeline broadly, as we’ve expanded our connections with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. We also have to create an environment where all voices are heard and valued, that’s why inclusion is a core priority for each one of us. I ask each of us to recommit to our shared D&I priority, participate in our inclusion learning programs, use the tools and resources we have shared on becoming an effective ally for others. We have the capabilities to make Microsoft more diverse and inclusive, but we must do the work.
We also have a responsibility to use our platform and resources intentionally to address systemic inequities in our communities and in society broadly. This is the work we need to do to have lasting impact. For example, we’re using our technology and our voice toward a more equitable criminal justice system with our Criminal Justice Reform Initiative. We created our Supplier Diversity program 15 years ago, so our supplier companies better reflected the diversity of our customers. Today, it makes up nearly 10 percent of our supplier spend. That spend has an amplifying effect, growing the local economies in the communities where those businesses are located. We need to keep building on this work in every community we operate in.
Finally, we must carry our company values out into the world in a way that reflects our strengths and expertise. To this end, we will deepen our engagement with six organizations that are advancing social justice, helping community organizers address racial inequality, and offering solidarity to the Black community: Black Lives Matter Foundation, Equal Justice Initiative, Innocence Project, The Leadership Conference, Minnesota Freedom Fund, and NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund. This starts with a company donation of $250,000 to each of these organizations ($1.5 million in total), followed by a company match of our employees’ contributions to eligible organizations. Together, through your giving and the company match, we have donated more than $15 million to civil rights, social action, and advocacy nonprofit organizations since 2015.
I have heard from many employees over the past several days, expressing calls for action, calls for reflection, calls for change. My response to all of you is this: Yes. We have to act. And our actions must reflect the values of our company and be directly informed by the needs of the Black and African American community. We must continue to nurture the energy and passion that the Blacks at Microsoft employee resource group fueled in all of us since its founding in 1989. We have been on a cultural transformation journey and must accelerate our pace of change. Each of us, starting with me, must look at where we are as individuals, confront our fixed mindset[,] and act. Our humanity is what calls out to us to make the world a better place.
We all have a role to play. I will do the work. The company will do the work. I am asking each of you to do the work. And together, we will help make the difference we want to see in the world.
Contrast to Facebook
While it could be argued that Microsoft is simply towing the line and avoiding controversy, Satya Nadella’s response is in stark contrast to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Following the fallout of George Floyd’s death and subsequent protests, Zuckerberg has been putting out fires.
Floyd was murdered by police two weeks ago, sparking nationwide protests across the United States. Many of the protests have turned violent, with riots reported in several locations. President Donald Trump deployed the National Guard in Minneapolis, the center of the troubles.
In a tweet and Facebook post, he said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. This was a direct copy of Miami police chief Walter Headley in the 1960s during his campaign of harsh policing of African American areas.
Zuckerberg decided not to remove a post Trump had made involving the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests. Employees protested Zuckerberg, including staged walkouts and the environment in Facebook remains tense.