Read IBM CEO Ginni Rometty's letter to staff: Why I walked from Trump's strategy forum

Translation: Please don't take away our govt contracts


In November 2016 IBM CEO Ginni Rometty wrote to then-president-elect Donald Trump with a list of ways IBM hoped to help the real-estate tycoon Make America Great Again.

And today she wrote to IBM staff to let them know Big Blue has walked away from Trump's strategy and policy forum, which was closing down anyway, and agrees with fellow members' decision to disband it, although wishes to remain close to government. In summary, racism is bad, we left a dying forum, and of course we still want Uncle Sam's dollars.

“In the past week, we have seen and heard of public events and statements that run counter to our values as a country and a company,” Rometty wrote in today's memo seen by The Register.

“IBM has long said, and more importantly, demonstrated its commitment to a workplace and a society that is open, inclusive and provides opportunity to all. IBM’s commitment to these values remains robust, active and unwavering.“

“We have worked with every U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson,” Rometty added. “We are determinedly non-partisan – we maintain no political action committee. And we have always believed that dialogue is critical to progress; that is why I joined the President’s Forum earlier this year.

“But this group can no longer serve the purpose for which it was formed.”

Rometty does not make any link between Trump's worryingly tepid response to the fascists marching in Charlottesville, Virginia, and IBM's decision. But her letter does say “the despicable conduct of hate groups in Charlottesville last weekend, and the violence and death that resulted from it, shows yet again that our nation needs to focus on unity, inclusion, and tolerance.”

Crucially, Rometty said:

IBM will continue to work with all parts of the government for policies that support job growth, vocational education and global trade, as well as fair and informed policies on immigration and taxation.

Compare and contrast that to the words of Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, who earlier this week furiously quit Trump's manufacturing council over the President's fumbling in the aftermath of the Charlottesville marches. The Chipzilla boss was followed by several other CEOs on the council, and Trump today decided to scrap the group.

The President also decided to close his strategy and policy forum that Rometty was banging on about, even though the decision was more or less made for him by its members, who were quietly plotting to walk away anyway.

SpaceX and Tesla supremo Elon Musk left the strategy forum in June, citing Donald's decision to exit the Paris climate change agreement as his point of no return. Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was a member of the group. The CEOs of Disney, General Motors, Wal-Mart and Boeing also served on the forum.

Other tech industry reactions to the Charlottesville drama include: GoDaddy and Google denying domain registration services to a hate-filled website that promoted the “United the right” protests in the city, and Cloudflare also dumping the ultra-right blog.

Airbnb closed accounts of far-right demonstrators who sought to book accommodation at the gathering, while PayPal denied access to those it says are linked to hatred violence and intolerance. Numerous other services that provide collaborative environments, among them Facebook, have also said they will block service to such groups.

By failing to quickly and clearly condemn fascists, who marched in America's streets at the weekend calling for racial segregation, Trump has been roundly accused of failing to foster unity, inclusion and tolerance.

The Tweeter-in-chief's response to the Charlottesville white supremacy rallies was, rather than solely condemn the stark racism on view, instead blame "both sides" for the violence that broke out between neo-Nazi and antifascist protestors, which led to the death of counter-protestor Heather Heyer.

We've screen-capped Rometty's letter here. ®

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