n early June, dutifully doing its part to virtue signal along with the rest of the world, Cisco Systems hosted an “all hands on deck” meeting on race, hosted via videoconference. In the comments of the online forum, visible to everyone, some workers questioned the Black Lives Matter movement and were subsequently fired from their jobs, proving once again that you can have an opinion, as long as it’s the right opinion.
Chief Executive Officer Chuck Robbins talked with Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, who is Black, and Bryan Stevenson, a Black lawyer and author who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, during the company’s June 1 meeting in front of 30,000 employees, according to Bloomberg.
Several people spoke out online against Black Lives Matter during these online forums. For example, one employee wrote: “Black lives don’t matter. All lives matter,” while another wrote that BLM “reinforces racism”. A third employee commented: “People who complain about racism probably have been a racist somewhere else to people from another race or part of systematic oppression in their own community!”
Cisco says it fired a “handful” of workers for “inappropriate conduct” because it won’t tolerate racism. It also, apparently, won’t tolerate its employees opinions.
The “incident” at Cisco (read: people expressing well reasoned opinions) has been a microcosm of similar situations at other silicon valley companies, who are left to try and figure out how to posture to the public they are concerned about racism, while at the same time not laying off their entire staff. Some believe that protests at companies could be next if employees aren’t “trained” to think the right way.
Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said: “Employers should be striving for zero tolerance when it comes to racism and discrimination, period. The protests we’ve seen in the streets have become part of our new normal and will eventually make their way inside workplaces if employers fail to meet the moment.”
Cisco said that ultimately 237 comments of the 10,400 made during the videoconference “objected to what was being presented”, while the majority of comments praised management. On the video call, Cisco’s CEO was announcing a $5 million donation to “groups combating racism”.