As Donald Trump’s presidential victory continues to sink in, and his plans start coming together, more heads of technology companies are addressing the results publicly and to their employees.
Sarah Bird, CEO of Seattle-based Moz, addressed her staff Wednesday morning in a message obtained by GeekWire, saying that she felt “shocked and disappointed” by the election results. She encouraged the company’s diverse set of employees to look around and reach out to one another to help process the results.
Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, which is being acquired by Microsoft, posted an internal memo he originally wrote to staff. He laid out a variety of reactions from people he spoke with following the elections. He wrote that his message isn’t politically motivated, but some of the issues that underpinned the surprising election result are key concepts LinkedIn is working to deal with: “the growing sense of disenfranchisement among tens of millions of Americans.”
Bird wrote that the U.S. has survived many difficult situations in its history and quoted Martin Luther King Jr., who said that ultimately the moral arc of the universe will bend toward justice. But that doesn’t happen on its own, it takes people working hard, Bird said, and the company will continue to champion things like family-friendly work environments, equal pay laws, economic inclusion, and social justice.
“Our country has been through terrible, terrible times. We have struggled through slavery, two World Wars, a Civil War, Watergate, internment camps, Vietnam war, and countless economic recessions. As citizens and immigrants we have shown incredible resiliency,” Bird wrote. “The expansion of rights for all people has increased significantly in our lifetimes, and I’m confident that in the long run, that will continue.”
Weiner, like many other tech CEOs encouraged people to be open to each others’ ideas, regardless of race, religion, ideology or any other differences. But he went a step further than others, saying why this is important.
“While we have always aspired to make this the case, it will be more important than ever given the misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic language heard at times throughout this election. That language and behavior has not and never will have a place at LinkedIn and we will continue to do everything within our power to create a safe and productive work environment for all of our employees.”
Prior to the election, many leaders in the tech community galvanized against Trump, coming together In July to sign a letter saying that a Trump presidency would be a “disaster for innovation.”
But now that Trump has won, some have softened their language. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has criticized Trump in the past and joked about blasting him into space, tweeted congratulations to the president-elect. Apple’s Tim Cook, whose company pulled support from the Republican National Convention over Trump’s remarks, did not mention the new president in an email to employees, but urged them to come together and move forward following the election. Microsoft also came out with a diplomatic reaction to Trump’s win.
Some haven’t been so even-keeled about it. Dave McClure, 500 Startups founder and investor, voiced more than a little frustration at an event in Lisbon Wednesday. And Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he was stunned at the result but “hopeful that we will overcome the vitriol and division of this unprecedented election season.”
Here is Bird’s full address to Moz employees:
I’m feeling shocked and disappointed by last night’s election results, and I know many of you are too. My heart especially goes out to those who have been fighting for so long our society’s efforts to marginalize you. It will take time to process this, and to take in the feedback that so many fellow Americans are giving through their votes.
Our country has been through terrible, terrible times. We have struggled through slavery, two World Wars, a Civil War, Watergate, internment camps, Vietnam war, and countless economic recessions. As citizens and immigrants we have shown incredible resiliency. The expansion of rights for all people has increased significantly in our lifetimes, and I’m confident that in the long run, that will continue. As Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
But the universe does not bend by itself. People bend the moral arc of the universe. Through our efforts, through our hard work, through fighting and donating and demonstrating and supporting each other, together we bend toward justice.
We have the honor, the opportunity, and the responsibility to create the kind of society that we want to live in. That responsibility includes us all, no matter who we voted for yesterday. Moz has championed family-friendly work environments, equal pay laws, economic inclusion, and social justice. That work is even more important today than yesterday. We must be a beacon of love and activate the communities around us.
So let’s do the work. Let’s use this situation to see reality clearly, and to redouble our efforts to create the kind of home, society, and workplace that exemplifies our ideals.
I am incredibly proud of the company we’ve built together. We have the resources that we need to weather any short-term economic instability, and we have a products that every digital marketer needs.
Over the next couple of days, please take the time to look around at other people in the company. We are an awesome mix of genders, ethnicities, political leanings, sexual orientations, and socio-economic backgrounds. Let’s build on that.
Thank you for all you’ve done to make Moz a great place to work, and a great contributor to our community. We will continue to fight for social and economic inclusion. Our work has just begun. Let’s get to it.
And here is Weiner’s full message to employees:
I spent much of yesterday talking with employees and leaders throughout LinkedIn about the U.S. election results and what it means to them personally and for us as a company. I wanted to briefly share what I heard and the implications for us going forward.
As might be expected from this long and sometimes brutal election cycle, the emotional responses people expressed ran from shock and sadness to grief and mourning; some telling stories of celebratory outreach from colleagues; and yet others feeling nothing at all. I heard women driven to tears of frustration over the fact a highly qualified woman was passed over once again for a leadership role, and saw men choke up as they recounted their stories; was told of how a highly talented and deserving co-worker, here from another country on an H1-B visa, was filled with dread over whether he and his family will have the opportunity to remain in the U.S.; and saw tears of joy from a mother recounting how her young son stood up in class, boasting how proud he was that his mom had voted.
The last eighteen months sharply divided the country. We saw far too many attacks on people vs. problems, and overzealous passion for candidates displacing compassion for one another. The polarization and open hostility was sustained for so long that people with opposing views became more caricature than actual human beings.
Let’s make sure to provide one another the time to process everything that’s just transpired. As leaders and achievers, many of us have a natural tendency to solve other people’s problems as soon as we hear them. However, we need to be sensitive to the fact that some members of the team don’t need or even want immediate resolution. They don’t want to hear rationalizations or participate in endless debates about why this unfolded the way that it did. They may just want someone to listen.
Others are ready to engage; to share their fears and anger, their hopes and dreams. It’s imperative to the healing process that we create a space where every individual at the company can feel safe when doing so; that everyone feels heard; and above all else, that every single employee of LinkedIn feels as if they truly belong here. This dynamic must transcend race, religion, gender, creed, and country of origin. While we have always aspired to make this the case, it will be more important than ever given the misogynistic, racist, and xenophobic language heard at times throughout this election. That language and behavior has not and never will have a place at LinkedIn and we will continue to do everything within our power to create a safe and productive work environment for all of our employees.
Beyond the healing, all of us should be prepared to channel this energy into action. Though human nature will dictate that we try and find one unifying theory for everything that transpired, the truth is that this outcome was the byproduct of multiple dynamics. Most relevant to the work we do at LinkedIn: The growing sense of disenfranchisement among tens of millions of Americans.
We’ve said for years that the realization of our vision — to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce — has never been more important. That when people no longer have access to opportunity, when they don’t feel heard, society is at risk. Whether through the growing skills gap, widening socioeconomic stratification, the increasing displacement of jobs by new technologies, or rising youth based unemployment, there are a growing number of people in the U.S., and around the world, that no longer feel as if they have a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families. It’s one thing to talk about this as part of a corporate narrative; its quite another to watch it unfold. That’s where LinkedIn can make a meaningful difference. By developing the world’s first economic graph, our newly launched learning and development tools, LinkedIn Cities, LinkedIn Placements, and many other similarly themed products, we can increasingly extend the power of our platform to help those middle skill workers beyond the core of our professional membership gain better control over their economic destiny. This work matters more than ever before.
As the election results were coming in, and it became increasingly obvious that Trump was likely to be our next President, my daughter asked what was going to happen next. I told her that no matter who was President of this country, her mom and I would always take care of her, that she would be raised with the same values we’ve always had, that we are fortunate to live in a country that enables every citizen not only the right to vote but to openly disagree with the views of the candidates, and that despite those disagreements, once we have elected a new President, recognize we’re all in this together.
I’m not certain what a Trump administration will mean for the country. If Brexit and this process have taught me anything, it’s how unpredictable seemingly predictable outcomes have become. What I am certain about is my value system, both as an individual and member of our team. I will continue to treat others, regardless of who they voted for, in a way that’s consistent with those values. I hope the same holds for everyone at our company — that no matter what our political leanings, our race, religion, gender, creed, or country of origin, we treat each other with respect, with compassion, and above all else, we take care of one another. No election should ever change that.