From Mark Zuckerberg to Roz Brewer, here’s how corporate America responded to Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict

Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Roz Brewer, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook
Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Roz Brewer, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd on Tuesday.
  • Business leaders including Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, and Roz Brewer responded to the verdict soon after.
  • Many said the verdict was only the beginning of the fight against institutional racism.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd on Tuesday afternoon, top US business leaders were quick to respond.

Many said that the ruling was only the beginning of the fight against institutional racism, and urged more action.

The CEOs of Apple and Dell shared quotes by civil-rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., while Zoom CEO Eric Yuan urged his staff to take care of their mental health.

Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer at the time, knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest. Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter.

Floyd’s death has led to increased scrutiny of police brutality and institutional racism around the world, and gave further international attention to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Read more: DEI execs are burning out amid the billion-dollar push to diversify corporate America: ‘It’s hard to be both the advocate and the abused’

Here’s how corporate America responded to Tuesday’s verdict.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Just minutes after the verdict was announced, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted that his thoughts were with Floyd, Floyd’s family, and those who knew him.

He added that the verdict was “part of a bigger struggle against racism and injustice.”

Facebook announced new content moderation rules on Monday in advance of the trial verdict, saying it would “remove content that praises, celebrates or mocks George Floyd’s death.”

Amazon

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Amazon tweeted that the verdict was a “small, yet important victory in the larger fight against racism and social injustice.”

 

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “Justice for Black people will not flow into society merely from court decisions nor from fountains of political oratory.

“Justice for Black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society.”

 

Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell.

Michael Dell, Dell's founder and CEO
Michael Dell, Dell’s founder and CEO.

Michael Dell, the founder and CEO of Dell, shared a different quote by King.

 

Melinda Gates, chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Melinda Gates Bill Gates at Davos 2015
Melinda and Bill Gates.

Melinda Gates, who chairs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation alongside husband Bill Gates, posted on LinkedIn that the verdict was “just the beginning.”

“As important as it was, this verdict was not justice,” she said. “If George Floyd had justice, he would be alive today.”

 

The Business Roundtable

Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon addresses a business leader panel discussion as part of the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in Washington
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who chairs The Business Roundtable.

The Business Roundtable, a group representing the CEOs of top US companies including Walmart, P&G, Dow, and PayPal, urged the country to “take steps to address its long history of racial inequity in law enforcement.”

“Though today’s verdict is a step toward justice in this case, unarmed Black men and women continue to die in encounters with the police,” it said.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra

Mary Barra GM CEO
General Motors CEO Mary Barra.

General Motors CEO Mary Barra said that the verdict was a “step in the fight against bias and injustice,” but that “we must remain determined to drive meaningful, deliberate change on a broad scale.”

 

Walgreens Boots Alliance

Rosalind Brewer
Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Roz Brewer.

Walgreens Boots Alliance posted statement on its website, saying that law enforcement officials must protect “all of us, at all times.”

People need to “pledge to do everything within our power to ensure that long-overdue, much-needed reforms are enacted to prevent future injustices,” the company said.

“Even with a verdict now handed down, we must never forget what this past year has taught us, and we must always keep alive the memory of George Floyd, and the countless victims who have suffered similar fates,” it said.

“The Centers for Disease Control has declared racism a public health threat, and for many African Americans and others in communities of color, it has definitely been life threatening,” it added.

Microsoft President Brad Smith

Brad Smith
Microsoft President Brad Smith.

Microsoft President Brad Smith said that “our nation has a long journey ahead before it establishes the justice and equity that Black Americans deserve.”

He added that “no jury can bring him back to life or reverse the pain and trauma experienced by his family and still felt across the country and around the world,” but that the verdict was “a step forward in acknowledging painful truths.”

Salesforce

marc benioff salesforce
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

Salesforce tweeted that though the verdict was a “defining and important moment,” it “does not make up for so much loss and injustice experienced by the Black community.”

“George Floyd should be alive today,” it added.

 

Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson Starbucks
Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson.

In a letter to US partners, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said that the verdict would “not soothe the intense grief, fatigue and frustration so many of our Black and African American partners are feeling.”

He said that, “while today’s verdict is a step forward in accountability, until we confront the ugly realities and root causes of what led us to this day, our people, our nation, will always fall short of their full potential.”

“We cannot sit on the sidelines as individuals nor as a company,” he added.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan

Zoom Eric Yuan
Zoom CEO Eric Yuan.

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said that Tuesday was “meaningful in the pursuit of justice, although Black communities continue to experience targeted acts of violence.”

In an note to staff, Zoom told employees to take care of their mental health and reach out to managers if they needed support.

 

Twitter

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.JPG
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Twitter urged people to “continue to deepen our solidarity and our commitment to combating racial injustice.”

 

Lyft cofounder John Zimmer

john zimmer lyft
Lyft Co-Founder John Zimmer.

Lyft cofounder John Zimmer said that “this year has opened America’s eyes to the urgency with which we must act and stand up for communities of color.”

LinkedIn

Ryan Roslansky
LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky.

LinkedIn said that “George Floyd should still be with us.”

“Today’s decision is important, but does not bring him back or diminish the acts of violence that the Black community continues to experience,” it added.

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Microsoft president Brad Smith candidly confesses politics are pay-to-play in response to criticism over the company’s donations to lawmakers who objected to US election results

microsoft brad smith
Microsoft president Brad Smith.

Microsoft CEO Brad Smith offered his employees a candid take this week on why the company gives money to politicians, shedding light on the heated debate over how corporate America should respond to GOP-led efforts to overturn the results of the US presidential election.

“It plays an important role. Not because the checks are big, but because the way the political process works,” Smith said, according to CNBC. “Politicians in the United States have events, they have weekend retreats, you have to write a check and then you’re invited and participate.”

Microsoft did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

After 147 Republican members of Congress challenged states’ Electoral College votes earlier this month, on the same day protesters violently broke into the US Capitol in a deadly riot, America’s biggest companies – and political spenders – faced criticism for their financial support of the lawmakers who had for months undermined confidence in the election.

One of those companies was Microsoft, which has given more than $178,000 to 61 those lawmakers through its political action committee, MSPAC, during the latest election cycles – the third-most among S&P 500 companies.

Read more: Joe Biden touts transparency, but his presidential inauguration spending remains a money mystery as organizers won’t disclose who’s cashing in

Microsoft temporarily paused all of its MSPAC contributions following pushback from employees. But as critics noted, the company hasn’t specifically committed to stop funding the lawmakers who attempted to overturn the election results – despite Smith signing a letter denouncing those efforts – effectively penalizing lawmakers who upheld the principles espoused in the letter.

Smith argued to employees on Thursday that the contributions are still important because they get Microsoft’s lobbyists access to politicians, which helps them build relationships so the lawmakers are more receptive when Microsoft wants to lobby them on an issue.

“If you work in the government affairs team in the United States, you spend your weekends going to these events; you spend your evenings going to these dinners, and the reason you go is because the PAC writes a check,” Smith said, according to CNBC.

Smith added that the relationships built at these events make it more likely lawmakers will be receptive when he calls them to ask for their help on employees’ immigration cases, as well as “issues around national security, or privacy, or procurement reform. Or the tax issues our finance team manages.”

However, Smith didn’t acknowledge contributions that companies give to candidates who are up for election and depend on those contributions to help them get – or stay – in power. In 2020 alone, Microsoft gave $88,000 to lawmakers up for election who eventually objected to Electoral College results.

Read more: EXCLUSIVE: GitHub is facing employee backlash after the firing of a Jewish employee who suggested ‘Nazis are about’ on the day of the US Capitol siege

Microsoft has come under fire from employees over its political support and government work before, and briefly paused its contributions in 2019 before quietly resuming them again just months later, according to Geekwire.

Smith’s comments provided a more direct acknowledgment than most executives typically give about how American politics are often “pay-to-play” – particularly following the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United that allowed companies to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence politics.

But they also came at a time when companies are facing unprecedented pressure from employees, customers, and shareholders, to rethink which candidates they support, who they do business with, and the positions they take on important national issues.

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Microsoft employees slam the company for urging Congress to accept Biden’s win while also donating to senators who want to overturn the election result

microsoft brad smith
Microsoft president Brad Smith.

  • Microsoft CEO Brad Smith on Monday signed an open letter urging Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election win, and said in a statement that Microsoft believes in the “peaceful transition of power” and “democratic principles.”
  • Microsoft employees publicly weighed in, saying that Microsoft should stop funding political candidates who undermine those principles.
  • One employee pointed out that the Microsoft’s lobbying vehicle MSPAC in May donated to a senator who said he plans to oppose Congress’ certification of Biden’s win.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Microsoft employees publicly criticized the company on Tuesday for claiming it supports the peaceful transition of power from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden – while it also quietly donates money to politicians who oppose that transition.

Microsoft president Brad Smith on Monday signed an open letter from 170 business leaders urging Congress to certify Joe Biden’s electoral college win, which is due to take place on Wednesday. 

“At Microsoft we believe a healthy business community depends on our Constitution, the rule of law, and the peaceful transition of power. Our democratic principles must come first,” Smith tweeted.

Microsoft employee Jake Friedman replied to Smith’s tweet, pointing out two donations made in May from Microsoft’s lobbying vehicle (known as MSPAC) to the Republican Party of Texas and Senator Jim Jordan of Ohio, who told Fox News in December he wanted a “real debate” about the electoral college win.

Microsoft engineer Brandon Paddock also tweeted: “So let’s get rid of MSPAC, or at least stop it contributing to people trying to undermine those democratic principles.”

CNBC also identified that, this year, MSPAC has donated to campaigns supporting Republican Senators Steve Daines, Cynthia Lummis, and Roger Marshall, all of whom have said they will oppose Congress certifying the result.

Microsoft employees are able to send a small amount of their pay to MSPAC, and another employee called Mike O’Neill replied under Friedman’s tweet saying he’d cancelled his contribution. In another tweet, O’Neill said he’d donated $5 from each paycheck for roughly 15 years.

Per CNBC, MSPAC has existed since 1988, and historically has donated to a range of candidates, both Republican and Democrat – a tactic used by many Big Tech companies.

In response to the criticism, a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC: “We weigh a number of factors in making political contribution decisions, and will consider this and other issues in making future contribution decisions.”

Microsoft was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.

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