More than 250 Microsoft employees signed a letter asking the company to end police department contracts
- More than 250
Microsoftemployees signed a letter asking the company to end its work with police departments, support reforms in Seattle including defunding the police department, and make internal reforms to help employees through the protests and pandemic.
- In an emailed statement, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, "I have heard from many employees over the past several days, expressing calls for action, calls for reflection, calls for change. My response is this: Yes. We have to act," but he did not commit to any specific action. The same statement appeared in an email to employees prior to the letter.
- Microsoft told Business Insider on Friday that it had "nothing to share" in response to a request about its relationship with law enforcement agencies such as ICE and police departments, and whether it plans to continue them in light of the national conversation on racial bias in policing.
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Hundreds of Microsoft employees have signed an internal email asking executives including CEO Satya Nadella to support protests against systemic racism with actions such as ending the company's contracts with police departments, calling for the resignation of Seattle's mayor, and making internal reforms to support employees.
The email, published on Medium publication OneZero, asked Nadella and Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene, who has been leading communication on the company's coronavirus response, to cancel the company's contract with the Seattle Police Department and other police departments, and support the defunding and demilitarization of SPD.
In response to a request for comment, Microsoft sent an statement Nadella made prior to the employee email saying the company needs to "do better," but did not commit to any specific actions.
"As a company, we need to look inside, examine our organization, and do better," he wrote in the statement shared with Business Insider. "I have heard from many employees over the past several days, expressing calls for action, calls for reflection, calls for change. My response is this: Yes. We have to act."
The relationship between Microsoft and SPD is not immediately clear, but Microsoft has long partnered with the New York Police Department on a surveillance product called Domain Awareness System, which gathers data from detection devices including cameras and license plate readers to, as Microsoft has said, provide "NYPD investigators and analysts with a comprehensive view of potential threats and criminal activity."
The employees also called on Microsoft to sign a position asking for the resignation of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan "for her failure to protect her people and keep police accountable," support Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County's demands for reforms, and condemn the use of teargassing, rubber bullets, and flashbanging on peaceful protesters.
Internal reforms requested in the email include training management company-wide to expect 50% reduced productivity (in light of coronavirus and the protests), starting a formal four-day work week, and expanding employee matching programs especially to benefit causes like Black Lives Matter and the Northwest Bail Fund.
Microsoft has come under fire in the past for its work with law enforcement agencies. In March, immigrant rights groups and some Microsoft workers asked tech companies (including Microsoft) to stop sharing their technologies with Immigration and Customs Enforcement as the agency conducted raids during the coronavirus crisis. Nadella has previously downplayed the company's work with ICE.
Microsoft told Business Insider on Friday it had "nothing to share" in response to a request about its relationship with law enforcement agencies such as ICE and police departments, and whether it plans to continue them in light of the national conversation on racial bias in policing.
Nadella has recently called on the company to use its position and resources to drive systemic change in light of national protests against policy brutality and systemic racism. He called out Microsoft's work on an initiative it launched in 2019 intended to drive reforms in policing.
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