By Ellen McGirt
December 14, 2016

A bevy of technology executives are meeting with President-elect Trump today, the first in what’s likely to be a long and awkward relationship with the man who both uses their platforms and derides them at every turn. Alphabet CEO Larry Page, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, are all slated to attend. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, also in attendance, plans to discuss her pledge to hire 25,000 “new collar” jobs in the years ahead.

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Trump’s platform of choice, was not invited.

Tech writer and entrepreneur Anil Dash has written a strongly worded memo to the company chiefs that’s worth a read. He digs into the role technology needs to play in the lives of citizens in the Trump era—refusing to assist in the creation of a Muslim registry is a great start, he says. But two points jumped out at me as he reminded leaders that their diverse customers and (hopefully diversifying) employees are watching what these CEOs say and do:

“State your explicit and specific rejection of Trump’s rhetoric. If your company talks about working with the Trump administration, it’s imperative that you first state that Trump has made racist, sexist, Islamophobic and divisive remarks, and the work being done does not excuse or accept these ideas. (Yes, you have to put this in the press release. Get used to it.)”

“Restate the boundaries of acceptable behavior within your own organization. When announcing cooperation with government agencies, reiterate to your employees that behaviors like committing (and joking about) sexual assault at the workplace, promoting religious discrimination, demonizing communities on the basis of race or ethnicity and advocating political violence against political leaders are firing offenses—even in an era when we have a president who has done all of these things.”

While this is a great rallying cry for inclusive leadership, it’s an even greater one for authentic transparency. Now, more than ever, leaders need to be more vocal about what they believe, what their company stands for, and how those beliefs are expressed in the way they choose to do business. Leaving things up to misinterpretation, as Rometty herself recently discovered, is not an option.

 

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A short note on Aleppo, Syria:

The horrors of the final siege in Aleppo unfolded online and in real-time yesterday, as residents of the besieged city took to their social feeds to update the world, and in some cases, to say goodbye to their loved ones. People on the ground are reporting mass executions, and some 20 women have committed suicide rather than be raped.

In addition to your regular news sources, consider adding these to your reading list. Some are from long-time analysts, and I found them helpful.

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