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June 19 2017

Silicon Valley CEOs Ignore Calls to Boycott Trump Tech Summit

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

CEOs of major tech firms are set to converge on the White House today for a summit with President Trump to discuss technology’s impacts on the economy, workforce, and federal IT infrastructure as well as emerging technology. However, they are doing so amidst calls by anti-Trump protestors to boycott this summit, which makes us wonder whether the #resist movement is slowly losing its steam.

As part of the President’s commitment to bring together leaders from the public and private sectors to solve national problems, this week is dubbed Technology Week by the White House and will features meetings with leading technology companies.

Some of the big names expected to be in attendance include Apple CEO Tim Cook (who has a laundry list of issues for the president), Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos,  Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Founders Fund Partner (and Trump ally) Peter Thiel, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet, and MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga, Noticeably absent from this list are Facebook’s big wigs CEO Mark Zuckerberg or COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter’s CEO. Elon Musk also declined, which some think stems from the decision to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement.

However, they are ignoring calls to boycott this convening led by Tech Solidarity, a group that hosts meetup evets for politically-engaged engineers in New York and the Bay area. The group has urged its members to email their bosses and encourage them not to attend today’s summit.

The leader of the group explains that they think there’s no reasoning with the president:

“I would urge people to look at the last six months,” [Its leader Maciej] Ceglowski told Recode. “We’ve learned how this administration operates. ... This isn’t somebody who is persuadable in the traditional way. You’re not going to sit at the table and make a cogent argument to tip him over on an important issue.”

Tech leaders faced blowback for advising the Trump Administration and blowback last December when the White House first attempted a convening with Silicon Valley companies. Anti-Trump tech activists galvanized workers, users, and supporters for electoral disruption as well. This group hopes to tap that same energy again.

According to the Tech Solidarity website, you are either for the president or against him and they demand that employees hold accountable their leaders:

This meeting doesn’t have to happen. Tech employees have the power to stop it.

Trump’s goal in convening this council is not to serve the country. His aim is to collect praise and credit, distract from his growing list of scandals, and demonstrate that Silicon Valley is willing to work for him and his vision of America.

Do you think Trump will interpret the heads of our industry showing up on command as anything but a tacit agreement to play by his rules?

Is that the signal we want to send?

If you work at a large tech company, email your CEO tonight, and demand that they do what’s right for your company by boycotting the Monday meeting.

Write your CEO right now. Hold them accountable. Demand they boycott the Monday summit. Get your coworkers to sign on with you.

One of the demands they make of those with hiring authority in a tech company is to “make a public pledge to hire anyone sanctioned or fired for speaking out to their CEO about attending this meeting.” That is an effort to absolve protestors of the repercussions of their actions.

If you get fired for sending your CEO a demand letter, you should be prepared to have a tough time finding a new job. While your rights as a citizen don’t stop when you enter the workplace, there should be a clear distinction between work and politics. Making politically-motivated demands of company leadership should have repercussions and if you truly stand by your actions then you should be prepared to accept whatever follows.

Healthy disagreement with policies of those in power is a part of a healthy democracy, but these anti-Trump efforts seek no compromise or willingness to work toward solutions that benefit the country. If they were serious about policy, they would have submitted ideas or perspectives for their CEOs to take with them into the summit for substantive discussions.

Perhaps it’s this blind partisanship that these CEOs are resisting.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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