In an email, more than 250 Microsoft employees have asked management to take action in response to nationwide racial protests in the past two weeks.
The letter, received from OneZeroMicrosoft urged Microsoft to terminate contracts with the Seattle Police Department and asked Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to resign. The staff also urge Microsoft to officially support the Black Lives Matter movement and its demands.
The employees sent the email to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and executive vice president Kurt DelBene on Monday and published it in a private Facebook group.
Email is the latest act of employee activism, a trend in the technology industry that is pushing large employers to take bold positions on political and environmental issues. It arrives in the second week of nighttime protests in Seattle and cities across the country after George Floyd's death by four white Minneapolis police officers.
"There have been continuous gas and lightning strikes in my neighborhood of Capitol Hill, Seattle, for the past more than 15 minutes – you may know that many of your employees are at home," the email said. "Each of us in the CC line is either a first-hand witness or a direct victim of the SPD's inhumane reactions to peaceful protests."
At the start of the protest movement, Nadella and Microsoft shared solidarity messages with the demonstrators. In the following days, Microsoft released perspectives of black employees on social media.
At this point, we will use our platform to amplify voices from the black and African American community at Microsoft. pic.twitter.com/EARaitd505
– Microsoft (@Microsoft) June 5, 2020
Microsoft provided this statement by Nadella in response to the employee's email:
As a company, we have to look inside, examine our organization and do better. I have heard from many employees over the past few days who have asked for action, reflection and change. My answer is yes. We have to take action. And our actions must reflect the values of our company and be directly informed of the needs of the black and African-American community. We are also responsible for targeting our platform and resources to eliminate systemic inequalities in our communities and in society in general. This is the work we need to do to have a lasting impact.
Although Microsoft and other major technology companies quickly advocated the movement, industry critics have highlighted companies' records of diversity and business relationships with law enforcement agencies.
The signatories to the email sent to Nadella and DelBene this week urge Microsoft to terminate these contracts and "support the defusion and demilitarization of the SPD." Other demands include signing a petition for Durkan removal, moving to a four-day work week, and promising workers affected by the protest and coronavirus pandemic will not be penalized for performance problems.