Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.


The best of solutions journalism in the sustainability space, published monthly.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

IBM Employees Start a Petition Over Their CEO's Support of Donald Trump


IBM CEO Ginni Rometty sent an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump a week after the U.S. election. In the second paragraph, Rometty proclaimed: “I know that you are committed to help America’s economy grow in ways that are good for all its people.” There are many who disagree, and her own employees are among them.

IBM employees expressed their disapproval of Rometty’s letter to Trump through an online petition launched this week. In the petition addressed to the CEO, the employees wrote, “We are disappointed that you did not reaffirm the core values which differentiate both IBM as a company and us collectively as IBMers.”

While the employees affirmed Rometty’s desire to “engage in constructive dialogue with the president-elect,” they underscored that IBM’s “shared culture and values" must "remain not only constant, but also central to our transformation underpinned by cloud and cognitive initiatives.”

One IBM employee became so concerned about Rometty’s letter that she resigned. Elizabeth Wood, a senior content strategist within the IBM corporate marketing department based in New York City, posted her own letter to the CEO. “Your letter offered the backing of IBM’s global workforce in support of [Trump's] agenda that preys on marginalized people and threatens my well-being as a woman, a Latina and a concerned citizen,” Wood wrote. She added that her knowledge is “too valuable to waste at an organization where we are not respected.”

Wood told The Intercept that she resigned because she found Trump’s “entire campaign repulsive” and that Rometty’s “willingness and eagerness to be involved made me think I want no part in this.”

IBM employees are not the only ones concerned about their CEO's coziness with Trump. George A. Polisner sent a resignation letter to Safra Catz, CEO of software giant Oracle, after she joined Trump’s transition team. The letter was posted to LinkedIn and went viral.

Polisner, a 23-year Oracle veteran, listed the reasons he can’t work for a company whose CEO supports Trump -- citing the president-elect's tax and economic policies, his anti-environmental policies, and his cabinet appointees. “I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way," Polisner wrote. "In fact –when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust –I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way."

By contrast to his counterparts at IBM and Oracle, Apple CEO Tim Cook personally responded to questions posted on the company’s internal employee information service, Apple Web, after he attended Trump's "tech summit" last week.

Tech Crunch obtained some of the text, in which Cook basically said Apple needed to keep the line of communication open with Washington in order to make a difference. “Personally, I’ve never found being on the sideline a successful place to be,” Cook wrote. “The way that you influence these issues is to be in the arena." He said Apple will continue to engage “whether it’s in this country, or the European Union, or in China or South America.”

After the tech summit, the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) took out a full-page ad in Wired magazine addressed to the tech community, warning about the dangers of a Trump presidency. “Your threat model just changed,” the letter states, and mentioned that Trump has “praised attempts to undermine digital security, supported mass surveillance and threatened net neutrality.” The group also mentioned that Trump has “promised to identify and deport millions of your friends and neighbors, track people based on their religious beliefs, and suppress freedom of the press.” The letter calls on the tech community to unite with EFF “in securing our networks against this threat.”

It is safe to assume that Trump’s presidency will not be a smooth one, if these reactions are any indication. The tech community's opposition to Trump's agenda can lead the way for the American people who care about the environment, diversity and the economy to stand up and make their voice heard. 

Image credit: Flickr/Michael Cote

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshot

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

Read more stories by Gina-Marie Cheeseman