Tech chiefs speak up for transgender people

WASHINGTON • Technology chiefs have taken to Twitter in opposition to President Donald Trump's surprise decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military.

Many of the CEOs included a hashtag calling for the President to #LetThemServe, in opposition to Mr Trump's tweets, which, if they became policy, would be a reversal of an Obama administration decision to let transgender armed forces members serve openly.

First out of the gate on Twitter appeared to be Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who expressed his gratitude for transgender members who serve. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wrote that "discrimination in any form is wrong for all of us", and Apple CEO Tim Cook, who is gay, wrote that "we are indebted to all who serve. Discrimination against anyone holds everyone back".

Others who spoke out included Mr Mark Zuckerberg and Ms Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's CEO and chief operating officer, Airbnb's Mr Brian Chesky and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

More CEOs, particularly in the technology industry, have been speaking out on social issues since Mr Trump was elected, on topics such as the travel ban on people from a number of Middle Eastern countries and climate change.

Researchers and corporate communications experts say that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issue strikes at the heart of the internal policies of big companies. Many have come a long way in extending benefits to their LGBT employees in recent years, and recognise that to not defend political issues related to them could make their corporate policies appear less credible.

In industries like technology where the war for talented employees is particularly tough, that is even more important.

Technology companies also tend to employ a greater share of millennials, who are particularly interested in hearing their CEOs' views on social issues and advocate for them in a public way.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2017, with the headline 'Tech chiefs speak up for transgender people'. Print Edition | Subscribe