Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, sent an email to the employee on Friday. The open letter, published on Microsoft’s official blog, states that “changing yourself helps drive change in the world”. Here’s what’s going on:
All of us must act when we see injustices in the world, both as individuals and as corporations. Sometimes this kind of action is personal — what can I do to change it? Sometimes it’s organizational — what changes do I need to make around me? Sometimes it’s reflected in the world — what can we do as a company to accelerate the change we desire? When we see the racism, bigotry and violence that black and African-American communities experience every day, the tragic and terrible murders of many people, the violence in Cities in the United States, it is time for us to act in all areas. As I shared at the staff meeting last week, each of us — starting with me and the company’s top leaders — has a role to play. We cannot wake up occasionally when new tragedies occur. A systemic problem requires a holistic response.
I feel heartbroken by the deep pain felt by our community. The result of systemic racism affected opportunities and exacerbated their injustices in the black and African-American communities, prompting me to consider my role as a leader. I must continue my journey of understanding and compassion and check the actions I take or do not take every day. Listening to and learning from my African-American colleagues helped me better understand their experiences. I am responsible for my constant learning about the realities of privilege, inequality and race, and for the patterns of behavior I want to see in this world.
As a company, we need to look inside, look at our organization, and do better. If we are to have the authority to demand that the world change, we must change first. We must predict and build future technological transformations with the same speed and mentality. Every day, we strive to bridge the gap between the culture we advocate and the experiences of everyday life, but we must do more and do it faster. To succeed in becoming a business that empowers everyone on earth, we need to reflect the world we serve. This is our commitment; we have goals and plans to increase representation across all roles and at all levels. We are investing extensively in the talent pipeline because we have expanded our connections with traditional black colleges and universities. We must also create an environment in which all voices are heard and valued, which is why inclusion is a central priority for each of us. I ask each of us to recommit to our common D.amp;I priorities, to participate in our inclusive learning program, to use the tools and resources we share to be effective allies for others. We have the ability to make Microsoft more diverse and inclusive, but we have to do that.
We also have a responsibility to consciously use our platforms and resources to address systemic inequalities in our communities and societies at large. This is the work we need to do to have a lasting impact. For example, we are using our technology and our voice to achieve a fairer criminal justice system through our criminal justice reform initiatives. Fifteen years ago, we created a supplier diversity program to better reflect the diversity of our customers. Today, the program accounts for nearly 10% of our suppliers’ spending. These expenditures have a magnifying effect and contribute to the local economic development of the communities in which these enterprises live. We need to continue this work in every community we run.
Finally, we must bring the company’s values to the world to reflect our strengths and expertise. To that end, we will deepen our collaboration with six organizations that are advancing social justice, helping community organizers address racial inequality, and supporting the black community. These are: Black Lives Matter Foundation, Equal Justice Initiative, Innocence Project, The Leadership Conference, Minnesota Fund Freedom, NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. First, the company donates $250,000 ($1.5 million) to each of these organizations, and then matches employee contributions with eligible organizations. Since 2015, we have donated more than $15 million to civil rights, social action, and advocacy nonprofits through your donations and company match.
Over the past few days, I have heard the voices of many employees, who have spoken out for action, for reflection, for change. My response to you is: Yes, we must take action. Our actions must reflect our company’s values and understand the needs of the black and African-American communities. We must continue to nurture the energy and passion that black people inspire in the Microsoft Employee Resource Group. We’re on a journey of cultural transformation and we have to accelerate the pace of change. Each of us, starting with me, must look at our personal situation, face up to our fixed thinking, and take action. Our humanity is calling on us to make the world a better place.
Each of us has to play our part. I’ll finish the work. The company will do the job, too. I ask each of you to do the work. Together, we will help bring about the changes we want to see in the world.