George Floyd: Tech world reacts and stands by equality – LIVE

"I can't breath." Floyd's last words painted on street furniture in Dallas, Texas, as part of the ongoing demonstrations across American cities.

George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on the 25th May after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes as he screamed: “I can’t breath”.

Three other officers watched and restrained him. The four, now former members of the force, have been charged for their involvement in Floyd’s death.

The violent killing act has sparked outrage, with protests erupting across the USA and in other parts of the world. In this special, Data Economy brings you the latest reactions from businesses and IT infrastructure leaders from across the globe, as the world unites to put an end, once and for all, to racism and discrimination.

July 13 – Reward of $100,000 offered for information on noose in Facebook Iowa data centre

A Turner Construction supervisor found the noose hanging from a Waldinger Plan Lock Box on the anniversary of the end of slavery in the US.

A $100,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest in the case of a noose that was left last month at an Altoona worksite where a Facebook data centre is being built.

The noose was discovered last month on June 19 at the data centre construction site, according to a report by the Des Moines Register.

June 19 is the observation of Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

Abigail Opiah reports more here.

June 29 – AT&T nears $3bn spending commitment for black-owned businesses

AT&T says it is on track to meet its commitment to spend $3 billion with U.S. black-owned suppliers by the end of this year.

The company’s AT&T Supplier Diversity team said it remains dedicated to making a significant economic impact in the Black business community.

“Our commitment to ensuring that Black-owned businesses and other diverse businesses have the opportunity to work with AT&T is longstanding, sustainable and unwavering,” said Susan A. Johnson, executive vice president – Global Connections & Supply Chain, AT&T.

Abigail Opiah reports more here.

June 23 – EA to donate $1m to improve racial equality

American video game company EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson recently announced a $1 million donation to improve racial equality.

Wilson shared a note with EA employees following the death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement.

“There is deep-rooted discrimination that is still unquestionably present towards the African-American / Black community, and it is unacceptable, said Wilson.

“Racism should not exist in our society. We stand with all of our African-American / Black colleagues and partners, families and friends, and everyone around the world who is ready to see it end.

“The executive team and I are meeting with the leadership of our Black Electronic Arts Team employee resource group to discuss our path forward as individuals, as a company, and as a community working towards change.” 

The company is set to contribute $1 million to organisations dedicated to the fight for racial justice in the U.S. and against discrimination around the world. 

The company plans to begin with the Equal Justice Initiative, the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, and with more partners to come, EA said it is deepening its support of organisations working to stop systemic racial injustice, fight discrimination and protect human rights in the U.S. and beyond.

“In addition to our company contribution, we’ll double match any funds that you donate to these and any other local organizations through our YourCause program during the month of June,” he added.

“The biggest impact can often be felt at local levels, and we encourage everyone to safely get involved.

“To that end, we’re launching a new program to give everyone in the company an additional paid day each year to apply to volunteering in your community.

“We are here for you.  We stand with you. Black Lives Matter. Racial justice matters. We’ve long held equality, inclusion and diversity at the centre of our beliefs at Electronic Arts.  Let’s stand together, act together, and drive change together.”

June 16 – Comcast pledges $100m to multi-year plan to fight inequality

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said last week Monday that the company is committing $100 million to the fight against social injustice and inequality.

In a written note to employees, he said the funds — made up of $75 million in cash and $25 million in media — will be part of a multiyear program.

The announcement comes as companies and entire industries respond to national protests and heightened focus on racial injustice in recent weeks since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

Craig Robinson, EVP and Chief Diversity Officer for NBCUniversal, will be spearheading these efforts with Roberts at the corporate level and will coordinate with business leaders across Comcast, NBCUniversal and Sky to build programs, allocate resources and collaborate with national and local organisations to drive meaningful change, he said.

“I want to sincerely thank those of you who have reached out and courageously shared your experiences and fears, said the CEO.

“We look forward to hearing more of your insightful ideas for our path ahead to a better future.

“Together we are facing a painful yet powerful moment – one that presents us with a renewed opportunity to do better, and to create substantive and sustainable change.”

June 15 – Amazon to implement a one-year moratorium on police use of Rekognition

Amazon announced it will be implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of Amazon’s facial recognition technology.

The company said it will continue to allow organisations like Thorn, the international centre for missing and exploited children, and Marinus Analytics to use Amazon Rekognition to help rescue human trafficking victims and reunite missing children with their families.

“We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge,” said Amazon in a recent blog post.

“We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”

Recently, Amazon unveiled it will be donating a total of $10 million to organisations that are working to bring about social justice and improve the lives of Black and African Americans.

Recipients—selected with the help of Amazon’s Black Employee Network (BEN)—include groups focused on combating systemic racism through the legal system as well as those dedicated to expanding educational and economic opportunities for Black communities.

June 11 – Several Facebook employees quit as Zuckerberg chooses to not act on President Trump’s controversial post

A week ago, a Facebook employee took to LinkedIn to announce he has submitted his resignation to the social media giants.

Timothy J, Aveni, former Software Engineer at Facebook quit as he disagreed with Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg’s choice to leave messages on the platform from President Donald Trump.

“I cannot stand by Facebook’s continued refusal to act on the president’s bigoted messages aimed at radicalizing the American public,” he wrote on his LinkedIn page.

“I’m scared for my country, and I’m watching my company do nothing to challenge the increasingly dangerous status quo.”

The post received over 280,000 reactions and over 15,000 comments. Since then, several Facebook employees have publicly resigned in protest, however, Zuckerberg has since defended his inaction on President Trump’s controversial posts.

Trump also recently responded to escalating protests over systemic racism and the death of an unarmed black man named George Floyd in Minnesota, using the phrase, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” in posts on social media post on Twitter.

June 11 – Only 10% of Black Silicon Valley professionals feel their Ethnicity is represented at C-Level

As companies speak out against racism, many are facing scrutiny over their lack of diversity, particularly in executive ranks.

Blind, an anonymous professional network, with 3.6MM+ users, primarily in tech, released the findings of its survey.

Key findings based on 2,800 respondents:

  • 76% of white respondents say their ethnicity is represented in the upper management/C-level of their organisation
  • Only 10% of Black or African American respondents are represented
  • Only 21% of Hispanic or Latino respondents are represented
  • 44% of Amazon professionals say their ethnicity is not represented in the upper management
  • Only 24% of all respondents’ personal values/ moral code represented in the upper management / c-level of their organization
  • 31% of white respondent’s personal values/ moral code are represented
  • Compared to only 12% of Black or African American respondents personal values/ moral code represented
  • Only 17% of Amazon professionals say their personal values are represented in the upper management
  • Additionally, 49% of Facebook and Google professionals say their personal values are not represented in the upper management
  • 42% of all respondents say upper management at their organization demonstrate an understanding of racial differences in the workplace
  • 47% of white respondents say upper management at their organization demonstrate an understanding
  • Compared to 34% of Hispanic or Latino respondents and 19% Black or African American respondents

June 9 – Black Lives Matter – Engaging with the conversation by Marilyn, Heward-Mills, Conexus Law

The shocking killing of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers in the US which has resulted in mass protests across the US and in the UK has once again highlighted the disturbing reality of deep-rooted race discrimination within our society.  

Although it might be tempting to confidently profess that racism does not exist within your workforce or business, that might not be the best conclusion to reach without further examination.  The Equality Act 2010 prohibits direct and indirect discrimination and harassment in the workplace in respect of race (which includes colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin).   Nevertheless, racism is an issue that lives within many organisations, and employers should consider committing to making real and substantial change now, starting by engaging in the conversation with their employees.  The research shows that people from ethnic minority groups are often at a disadvantage in the labour market and are more likely to be unemployed and over-represented in poorly paid and unstable jobs.  There is also a significant under-representation of ethnic diversity at the top of UK boards, as shown by the Government’s recent Parker Review.  

Particularly at this time, doing nothing might be damaging to your workforce morale and your reputation and might not be the responsible business response.   Set out below are some practical steps that you as an employer might consider:  

  • Acknowledge that the death of George Floyd and the ensuing mass protests has an impact on your BAME employees. 
  • Express your sadness and sympathy about the situation. 
  • Clarify and communicate your organisation’s stance and values on the subject of racism.
  • Declare a commitment to begin or continue the process of open dialogue with your staff about how racism impacts them and your business.
  • Consider ways to engage meaningfully in the conversation around racism by creating a safe environment in which individuals can share their personal experiences and learn from each other.
  • Commit to listen to the concerns and needs of all of your workforce.
  • Commit to educate yourselves and your staff about the realities faced by BAME individuals in the work and social space, including those that you employ or transact with. 
  • Ensure diversity and inclusion remain top of your agenda and commit to action that will ensure you achieve your goals. 
  • Determine what other steps you must take to ensure racism is stamped out in your organisation and how you will build a diverse, supportive culture that is respectful and fair for all.
  • Commit to leadership and action and set targets for required change. 

June 9 – Amazon’s Jeff Bezos says he is happy to lose racist customers

 Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, has shared two emails that he received from people he described as the “kind of customer I’m happy to lose”, in response to the Amazon’s decision to publicly support the Black Lives Matter movement.

The first email he shared four days ago was from a person who described seeing Black Lives Matter on the Amazon website as disturbing.

Bezos shared his response, explaining to the person that “Black Lives Matter” does not mean other lives don’t matter, as the movement speaks to “racism and the disproportionate risk that Black people face in law enforcement and the justice system.

Two days letter he shared a more aggressively-toned email on his Instagram from a man named Dave who criticized the billionaire for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

The email contained several racist comments, with the person telling Bezos that white America is sick and tired and he will no longer have a business relationship with Amazon.

Bezos captioned, “There have been a number of sickening but not surprising responses in my inbox since my last post.

“This sort of hate shouldn’t be allowed to hide in the shadows. It’s important to make it visible. This is just one example of the problem.

“And, Dave, you’re the kind of customer I am happy to lose.”

June 4 – Telus accepts Stockwell Day’s board resignation after TV comments  

Stockwell Day has resigned from the Telus board of directors after he said systemic racism was not an issue in Canada.

Speaking on the late-afternoon Canadian show Power & Politics on CBC News – which examines “the meaning of power and politics in an organisation” – Day also claimed he “knew for a fact” that “most Canadians aren’t racist”.

Apologising via Twitter at 9pm local time, he wrote: “By feedback from many in the Black and other communities I realise my comments in debate on Power and Politics were insensitive and hurtful. I ask forgiveness for wrongly equating my experiences to theirs. I commit to them my unending efforts to fight racism in all its forms.”

The official statement from Telus read: “TELUS Corporation announced today that it has accepted Stockwell Day’s resignation from the TELUS Board of Directors, effective immediately.

“The views expressed by Mr. Day during yesterday’s broadcast of Power & Politics are not reflective of the values and beliefs of our organisation.”

June 3 – Schneider Electric employee outlines five ways to support Black Lives Matter

An employee at Schneider Electric has outlined five ways people can support Black Lives Matter, with the company helping to spread the message via its blog and social media.

Authored by Isabel Barbosa, employer branding content specialist at Schneider Electric, the post is called How to advocate for black people. It reads:

“There is power in numbers, so we need more people to step up to support black lives and call out injustice when they see it and hold people accountable.”

Outlining five ways people can support Black Lives Matter, she urged people to: listen, have empathy, educate, advocate and act.

She continued to write: “Black people are tired of the injustices, inequalities, and racism, but we won’t stop fighting for what is right. We want to live in a world where the black community does not have to fear when doing day to day tasks.”

Describing herself as a “recent graduate”, Barbosa has worked for Schneider Electric for just under two years. According to her LinkedIn profile, her passions lie in marketing and psychology, and “working together to reach a common goal”.

June 3 – Softbank announces fund for companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of colour

In response to the protests, SoftBank Group has announced that it will start a $100 million fund for companies led by founders and entrepreneurs of colour.

Named, the Opportunity Growth Fund, it will be the largest fund of kind globally.

In a twitter post, SoftBank group chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son said, “racism is a tragedy,” and that new fund will help black and Latino entrepreneurs who have been prevented from succeeding due to social injustices.

It will specifically focus on companies that use technology to “disrupt traditional business models,” according Marcelo Claure, SoftBank group’s CEO.

Adding that the fund “will not take a traditional management fee, but instead will seek to put as much capital as possible into the hands of founders and the entrepreneurs.

June 2 – Bank of America pledges $1 billion as CEO says: “We all need to do more”

Bank of America (BoA) has pledged US$1 billion to fight racial inequality as part of a four-year “commitment of additional support” to help local communities address economic and racial inequality accelerated by a global pandemic.

BoA said programmes will be focused on assisting people and communities of colour “that have experienced a greater impact from the health crisis”. BoA said the commitment follows earlier work in the areas of economic mobility and workforce development, before current events began to unfold.

With four areas of focus – health, jobs/training/reskilling/upskilling, support to small businesses, and housing – work will be executed through the company’s 90 local US market presidents and non-US country executives.

“Underlying economic and social disparities that exist have accelerated and intensified during the global pandemic,” said CEO Brian Moynihan.

“The events of the past week have created a sense of true urgency that has arisen across our nation, particularly in view of the racial injustices we have seen in the communities where we work and live,” he continued.

“We all need to do more.”