Microsoft Corp., Amazon, Nike Inc., Uber Technologies Inc. and more are among the staffing buyers speaking out publicly as protests continue in the US over the killing of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer in Minneapolis. In addition, many companies have made donations to various racial justice groups while others matched employee donations.
Here are a few snippets.
Microsoft. Microsoft posted to LinkedIn some comments that CEO Satya Nadella made to Microsoft employees. In 2019, it launched the Microsoft Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, which invests in partnerships and programs working to drive reforms, focusing on policing.
Our identity, our very existence is rooted in empowering everyone on the planet. So, therefore, it’s incumbent upon us to use our platforms, our resources, to drive that systemic change, right? That’s the real challenge here. It’s not just any one incident, but it’s all the things that have led to the incident that absolutely need to change. …
We need to recognize that we are better, smarter and stronger when we consider the voices, the actions of all communities, and you have my assurance that Microsoft will continue to advocate to have all those voices heard and respected.
Amazon. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos posted on Instagram an essay by writer Shenequa Golding about attempting to maintain professionalism after witnessing black men and women being killed. “The pain and emotional trauma caused by the racism and violence we are witnessing toward the black community has a long reach,” Bezos wrote.
He recommended everyone read Golding’s thoughts, especially managers and leaders. Golding writes in her essay:
Forgive us if our work isn’t up to par, we just saw a lynching. Pardon us if we’re quiet in the Zoom meetings, we’re wondering if we’ll be the next hashtag. Spare some grace if we’re not at the company happy hour, because the hour of joy that most adults look forward to has been stolen from us due to the recent string of black death.
We’re biting our tongues, swallowing our rage and fighting back tears to remain professional because expressing that hurt caused by witnessing black death is considered more unprofessional, than black men and women actually being killed, she writes.
So if you can, please, be mindful. Your black employees are dealing with a lot.
Nike. Nike on Friday night released a new socially conscious ad pivoting from its iconic slogan of “Just Do It” to a black-and-white video with the message, “Don’t Do It.” Urging viewers to be part of change, it says:
Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America. Don’t turn your back on racism. Don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us. Don’t make any more excuses. Don’t think this doesn’t affect you. Don’t sit back and be silent.
According to Footwear News, an internal memo from Nike President and CEO John Donahoe to Nike employees circulated Friday night stating that he “can’t stop thinking about the individuals impacted,” listing several people of color to die under controversial circumstances or face blatant racism in the US in recent weeks: “Ahmaud Arbery. Christian Cooper. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd.” Donahoe wrote in the memo:
I’ve been asking myself how to respond during times like these, both as a citizen and as a member of the Nike family … Let me be as clear as I can: Nike is opposed to bigotry. We are opposed to hatred and inequality in all its forms, indirect and overt. While Nike cannot solve injustice, I believe we have a responsibility to work toward addressing it to the best of our ability. What we can do is inspire and empower ourselves and others to action – and try to help shape a better society by serving as a beacon of hope and resilience.
Uber: Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted Sunday that the human cloud, ride-sharing firm would donate $1 million to the groups Policing Equity and the Equal Justice Initiative to support their work in making criminal justice in America more just for all:
@Uber stands in solidarity with the Black community and with peaceful protests against the injustice and racism that have plagued our nation for too long. My hope is that if each of us recommits to doing all we can to counter bigotry wherever we see it, change will follow. … But it’s clear that lasting change will only come from reforming the systems that have led us to where we are today.
Facebook. Facebook is also donating $10 million to racial justice groups, in addition to the “roughly $40 million” the Zuckerbergs have invested annually for several years in organizations working to overcome racial injustice, according to a post by Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.
The pain of the last week reminds us how far our country has to go to give every person the freedom to live with dignity and peace. It reminds us yet again that the violence Black people in America live with today is part of a long history of racism and injustice. We all have the responsibility to create change.
We stand with the Black community — and all those working towards justice in honor of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others whose names will not be forgotten.
Apple Inc. Apple CEO Tim Cook said protections for people are “still not universally applied” as he discussed discrimination and inequality in the US in an internal memo to employees, Bloomberg reported. He said that the company would be donating to a number of groups, including the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit focusing on racial injustice. The iPhone maker will also offer a two-for-one match for employee donations in the month of June.
We have to reexamine our own views and actions in light of a pain that is deeply felt but too often ignored, Cook said. 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.
Indeed. In an email to employees, Indeed CEO Chris Hyams wrote that he was heartbroken and assailed the long line of systemic trauma the Black community has endured:
Like many of you, our family has spent much of the past week watching and absorbing news of the protests over the death of George Floyd. The wounds are still fresh from the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and the scary situation for Christian Cooper. This is all taking place in the middle of a terrible global pandemic which has exposed the already significant inequality in the US with disproportionate impact on the Black community. And these are just the most recent examples in a long line of systemic trauma and tragedy that is both mind numbing and incomprehensible.
I’m heartbroken. I can’t even begin to imagine the frustration and despair that members of the Black community must feel. I know there are many at Indeed and around the world who share that pain.
Words matter, which is why I am sending this note to all of you today. But words alone are insufficient. What we do, how we show up, how we move forward — this is what is most important.
Business Roundtable. The CEO members of the Business Roundtable also released a statement on Saturday:
We share the anger and pain felt by so many Americans at the recent killings of unarmed black men and women. Racism and brutality have no place in America.
We grieve for the families, friends and communities of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others. These tragedies reflect longstanding racial injustice in our country.
As the employers of more than 15 million individuals of all backgrounds, whose diversity strengthens our institutions, Business Roundtable CEOs are deeply concerned about the racial bias that continues to plague our society. At a time of great uncertainty, when communities of color are facing deep inequities, now is a time for unity and justice. We call on national, local and civic leaders to take urgent, thoughtful action to prevent future tragedies and to help our communities heal.