It has been an interesting few months globally and here in America.
The aftermath of the election of Donald Trump as POTUS has resulted in extremely mixed emotional reactions. Recently, there has been news of these reactions taking place in an unexpected setting… white collar offices.
The trend seems to have started with IBM.
In November, after the election, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty wrote a public letter to Trump congratulating him on his victory, providing a few compliments, and offering IBM’s assistance to “make America great again.”
As a result of this letter, an IBM employee, Elizabeth Wood, made national headlines by quitting the company. Some called the move brave, others have questioned her sanity… I call it wisely calculated:
Wood acknowledged that she had experienced frustrations of working in a company as large as IBM but said she had not been planning to leave the tech giant before seeing Rometty’s letter. A writer and “content strategist,” Wood also said she was aware her move had the potential to raise her profile; she has pinned the letter she wrote to the top of her LinkedIn profile and her Twitter feed.
Wood was already frustrated working within IBM and this letter brought considerable attention her way.
Putting aside personal politics, Rometty made the right move by sending the letter. The US government is a major IBM customer. Losing that business would place even more IBM employee’s jobs at risk. The letter also resulted in Ginni participating in early business transition meetings (the only technology CEO in the group initially).
As the weeks have passed, more technology employees are having similar reactions as their leaders engage the Trump administration. An Oracle cloud manager resigned after co-CEO Safra Catz joined Trump’s transition team.
Most of the technology workers criticizing their leaders are concerned with Trump’s social politics towards Muslims, Latinos, women’s rights, and homosexuals. The fact that so many people feel their civil rights are at risk is a massive alarm that needs attention and discussion. But business leaders can’t hide from this administration, they have to engage and steer this ship in the right directions.
Tim Cook, Apple’s openly gay CEO took a meeting with Trump last week:
“Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” writes Cook. “The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. So whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think it’s very important to do that because you don’t change things by just yelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best. In many ways, it’s a debate of ideas.”
Both IBM and Microsoft have publicly refused to work on any project that would result in a Muslim registry within the United States. Yet both companies have recently earned new business with the Federal government.
Donald Trump isn’t going to go away. He might not be the person we wanted, but he is the guy we got. The only way left-leaning people are going to keep their social concerns alive is to remain engaged and you can’t do that by quitting or freaking out over a letter.
Photo: Quinn Dombrowski