There’s an old saying that “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Variations of the phrase have popped up in popular culture, such as the 1980s power ballad from Cinderella. For American companies with diverse workplaces, that’s not entirely true. Those companies certainly know what they have, and they are speaking out to make sure they don’t lose their valuable human capital.
Writing for CNN Money, Jackie Wattles, Aaron Smith and Shannon Gupta take a look at how top American companies and their leaders have spoken out against President Trump’s executive order on immigration from seven Muslim-Majority countries. Although the order was effectively stopped by the judiciary, the White House has issued a revised travel ban which has received mixed reactions.
Here’s just a sample of those reacting to the executive order:
Wattles, Smith and Gupta write, “Immigrants have played a big role building some major U.S. companies, particularly in tech. A 2011 report from the Partnership for a New American Economy estimates that 45% of high-tech companies in the Fortune 500 were founded by first- or second-generation Americans.”
It’s not just the founders that provide value of course. Many companies rely on top talent from around the globe to fill vital positions throughout their hierarchies. AP Technology writers Mae Anderson and Michael Liedtke write that “About 58 percent of the engineers and other high-skill employees in Silicon Valley were born outside the U.S., according to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, an industry trade group.” Anderson and Liedtke quote the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s CEO Carl Guardino, explaining why so many tech companies are willing to risk the potential backlash from consumers who may support travel restrictions on certain groups: “Immigration and innovation go hand in hand. This cuts so deeply into the bone and marrow of what fuels the innovation economy that very few CEOs feel the luxury of sitting on the sidelines.”
Some of the biggest and most influential companies in the company are taking a big stand in support of immigration. While there are most likely some very altruistic reasons behind some statements being made by these companies or their executives, the truth is they need the talent that is threatened by proposed travel restrictions.
Whatever their personal feelings, executives and boards of directors of publicly held companies have an obligation to their shareholders first and foremost, and that’s the primary reason for their activism. Diversity and inclusion aren’t just about doing the right thing; they are about the bottom line. Be inclusive!