tech

Our very existence is rooted in empowering everyone: Satya Nadella speaks up about racism

In the Town Hall meeting with his employees, Satya Nadella said that just empathy is not enough, one must drive change 

“We can't do it alone. I'm grounded in that, I realize that, but together I think we can, and we will drive change,
“We can't do it alone. I'm grounded in that, I realize that, but together I think we can, and we will drive change," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said.  (REUTERS)

Protests against George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis Police and against police brutality has gripped America. While Twitter chose to flag US President Donald Trump’s post ‘glorifying violence’, tech heavyweights like Apple, Google, YouTube, Netflix etc have spoken up about racism and have conveyed their stance against it. Hacktivists Anonymous has also warned that they are going to ‘expose’ the Minneapolis Police department. 

The latest on the list is Microsoft, led by CEO Satya Nadella. Nadella addressed the issue over a Town Hall meeting with his employees and Kathleen Hogan, Chief People Officer & EVP, Human Resources, Microsoft, shared excerpts of Nadella’s speech on LinkedIn.

“One thing is for sure – we can’t be silent. In that spirit, I want to share Satya’s remarks because I felt they were universal - applying beyond Microsoft and our employees - so I asked Satya to allow me to share an excerpt from his comments,” Hogan wrote.

Here’s what Nadella had to say:

Thanks, everyone, for joining today. I want to start by talking about an issue that is important to all of us and is impacting and hurting many amongst us, very directly, and very severely. I also know that the every-day racism, bias and hatred in the news today is not new, and it's far too often the experience and reality in daily lives, particularly for the Black and African American community.

I was reading, just the other day, Ernest Owens' very powerful and moving Op-ed in The New York Times, and this is even before all that unfolded in Minneapolis, and it sort of hits home how many feel about their daily lived experience, and we're not insulated from this.

This is not something that you can just leave behind when you log into work. The weight can be enormous, and so the question, of course, is what can we do, what should we do?

My feeling is that we can start by checking in with each other, ask all colleagues how they're doing and what they need, have empathy for what others are feeling. We talk about Model, Coach, Care for our managers, but it's actually a good framework for how we can, each of us, be there for each other, and for our communities. We can model that behavior we need to see, coach others on how they can be better allies, and care for each other in times of crisis.

I know it's not enough to just have empathy for those impacted, for the communities who are experiencing this hate, firsthand, who are scared for their safety, and for their loved ones.

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 can't do it alone. I'm grounded in that, I realize that, but together I think we can, and we will drive 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.

That's why we're doing what we're doing with the Criminal Justice Reform Initiative, investing in partnerships and programs, working to drive reforms, focusing on policing.

My ask to each of you is to come together. Ask a colleague how they are doing today. Give each other grace as they're navigating unseen circumstances.