As the IT conference season heads into peak season, the CEOs of the top tech firms have used these large global gatherings as a platform to speak out on racism.
In his keynote kicking off the HPE Discover virtual conference, CEO Antonio Neri said: “I have felt many emotions: anger, disbelief, sadness, grief, and frustration at the systemic oppression and racism that still exists in our society. I challenge you to use this moment to take a stand and advocate for equality. We have to do better as a society. Together we can make a difference and be a force for good.”
Meanwhile, at the opening of its Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, also spoke of the killing of George Floyd. He said: “While the events of this last month are not new they have caused us to face long standing institutional inequalities and social injustices. This county was founded on the principles of freedom and equality for all. For too many people and for too long, we haven’t lived up to those ideals. We are inspired and moved by the passionate people around our nation and around the world who have stood up to demand change. We must all aim far higher to build up a future that lives up to our ideals. This means taking action.”
A holistic response to inequality and race issues
Earlier in June, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella sent an email to the company’s global workforce discussing the issue of racism. He wrote: “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.”
Similarly Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, shared a letter from a customer on Instagram, complaining about the Black Lives Matter banner on the Amazon website.
These corporate leaders are calling on their employees, their customers, the software development and partner communities to come together to make a difference. They are certainly not civil rights leaders. But in this topsy-turvy, highly connected, technologically-driven world, their common message has a global reach. Maybe, just maybe, it can help make a difference.