Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. – Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Remarks before HP Shareholder Meeting
March 19, 2014 - Santa Clara Convention Center Silicon Valley
Mr. Chairman, Ms. Whitman, Board members and shareholders:
I speak to you today representing the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, about the need to open up a new era of growth and inclusion of African Americans and people of color in Silicon Valley’s technology industry. Inclusion leads to growth, and when there is growth, everybody wins.
Silicon Valley is America’s valley: built through American R&D; American education; American tax credits and tax havens.
Technology is supposed to be about inclusion, but sadly, patterns of exclusion remains the order of the day. The tech industry is perhaps the worst industry when it comes to inclusion – let me state some facts:
When it comes to African Americans on Board of Directors and C-suites, Minority firms in IPO’s and financial transactions, advertising and professional services there are too many ZEROES.
HP is uniquely position to lead this new era. Inclusion and fairness is part of the DNA of HP’s history. Your Digital Village initiative of the past decade was a model partnership for the East Palo Alto community. Your former CEO Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman are two of the trailblazing women in technology, paving the way for the Sheryl Sandbergs and Marisa Mayers.
When women lean in, so must Blacks and Latinos move forward. Everyone must be included. I appeal to you today to forge new partnerships, build new relationships and lead the valley into this next era.
Silicon Valley and the tech industry has demonstrated that it can solve the most challenging complex problem in the world. Inclusion is a complex problem – if we put our collective minds to it, we can solve it, too. There’s nothing we can’t do, together.
We won’t know how good Silicon Valley can be until everyone can participate. All we ask is that everyone plays by one set of rules, and that there is an even playing field for all.
The “we can’t find them” syndrome is a thing of the past. Who is looking? And where are “they” looking. We can find them, if we look in the right places. There is a wealth of untapped talent.
Blacks are biggest per capital user of social media and the internet – we use HP computers and printers; we use Iphones and androids. We a huge part of your customer base. It’s time the Boards of Directors and C-suits – the businesses you do business with - reflect your customer base.
ZERO Blacks on Boards and in the C-suites
Tech powerhouses including Apple, EBay, Google, and new media companies like Twitter and Facebook - have ZERO Blacks on their Board of Directors. Black Enterprise magazine reported that 75 of the top 250 S&P 500 public companies do not have an African American on their Board of Directors (http://www.BlackEnterprise.com/tag/black-corporate-directors/).
This same pattern exists in the C-suites. Facebook, Twitter, EBay, HP, Apple, and far too many other Silicon Valley and technology firms have ZERO African Americans on their senior executive leadership teams. There are just five Black CEOs – or 1% - of Fortune 500 companies; Latinos fare slightly better with eight CEO’s, 1.6%, and there are 22 women (The Guardian) at the helm of all Fortune 500 CEOs (www.DiversityInc.com/top50).
Participation in capital markets
The Rainbow PUSH report, “Minority Inclusion in Debt Capital Markets: A Ranking of Corporate Issuers.” It revealed that :
Google used just one minority firm is its three recent debt offerings; HP did not include any minority firms in 20 of its debt offerings; and Apple did not include any minority firms in its last 6 debt offerings; including it’s latest $17Billion debt offering. EBay ranked in Tier 2, using minority firms in four of its last six offerings; and Microsoft in Tier 3, admirably using minority firms in all of its last 14 debt offerings. IBM made Tier 2.
These ZEROES are contrary to the enlightened values expoused by the industry. Rainbow PUSH is seeking meetings with tech leaders to address these ZEROES head on.”
At its best, Silicon Valley can be a tremendously positive change agent for the world; at its worst, it can hold on to old patterns that exclude people of color and women from opportunity and advancement. Silicon Valley and the tech industry must transform itself to mirror the America it depends upon for talent and customers.”
Silicon Valley must evolve and expand to look like America, and mirror American values and principles – we must even the playing field and play by one set of rules. Let’s win together.
1. Will HP make a commitment to inclusion of Blacks and Latinos on your Board of Directors? Specifically would you agree to place a by-law amendment similar to Apple that will require an explicit and active search for women and people of color for all Board openings?
2. Will HP commit to a “Rooney-rule” like provision to mandate that women and people of color are included as part of any search for C-suite level positions?
3. Will HP commit to the inclusion of Black and minority firms in debt offerings and future financial transactions.
4. How can HP lead in building pipelines to expand the participation of women, Blacks, Latinos and people of color in technology?
In K-12 and high education
For emerging Tech Entrepreneurs
For professional services companies: advertising, insurance, accounting, legal – that seek to do business with the tech industry.
Thank you again for the opportunity to speak to you today. Let’s make Silicon Valley look like America. Inclusion leads to growth, and where there is growth, everybody wins. Let’s win.