USA: Former Microsoft executive argues for cos. to urgently act to advance opportunity for all, in time of deep distress

Author: Jeff Raikes (Raikes Foundation & former Microsoft), Published on: 24 September 2018

"We Need Corporate America in the Fight for Justice", 05 Sep 2018

When I’m feeling despondent about the current state of our country, I think back to 2015 when the Supreme Court decided the Obergefell v. Hodges case legalizing marriage across the country for gay and lesbian Americans… Moments like that don’t just happen. They take years of activism, organizing, and legal work… But a role that we don’t talk much about in advancing social justice in America is the one that the private sector has and should continue to play in the fight for a more equal society. At a time of deep distress for the nation, when we have a president actively working to undermine national cohesion and foment racial discord, that role becomes more urgent… I wrestled with these issues for decades when I was a leader at Microsoft… I believe that corporations should not be neutral about issues of social justice, inclusion, and belonging. Companies exist in a climate where the way workers, customers, and the rule of law are treated are matters of self-interest….There are multiple ways they can advance the cause of justice: corporate policies matter…, [l]isten to employees [(]…employee activism is [at] the highest[)],…[u]se your influence,… [b]e introspective,… [l]ive your values… Wall Street also plays an important role in shaping the incentive systems and measuring sticks for companies… [I]n the ’80s and ’90s, stepping into "politics" — assigning your company to one side or another in a debate — was considered foolish… But we are now living in a different time, a time when we should — and must — step forward and publicly state our values and collectively act to advance opportunity for all. We are a far more diverse nation today, and I would argue that standing up for the dignity of employees, partners, and customers isn’t a political act at all. It’s necessary and smart — and it’s needed now more than ever. [Refers to General Motors, REI, Salesforce, Starbucks, Walmart]. 

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Related companies: General Motors Microsoft Salesforce.com Starbucks Walmart