Tech companies, among the biggest spenders in Washington, are weighing in en masse on social issues.
Reacting to the religious freedom laws passed in Indiana and Arkansas, more than 100 high-profile executives have signed on to the Human Rights Campaign’s joint statement to lawmakers calling for new non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.
New co-signers include Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and CEO Larry Page, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg, Twitter Vice President Katie Stanton, Cisco CEO and Chairman John Chambers and Gary Shapiro, CEO of Consumer Electronics Association.
The statement was sent Monday in the wake of religious freedom laws passed by Arkansas and Indiana and similar laws that have been introduced in other state legislatures in the last year.
“We believe it is critically important to speak out about proposed bills and existing laws that would put the rights of minorities at risk. The transparent and open economy of the future depends on it, and the values of this great nation are at risk,” the statement reads.
Apple’s Tim Cook has been the most visible advocate of social causes, penning an op-ed against the Indiana law. “This isn’t a political issue. It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings,” he wrote in The Washington Post
Tech companies have been an increasingly strong force on Capitol Hill, banding together to call for immigration reform and increasing the number of H-1B visas for foreign workers.
While presenting itself as a champion of civil rights, the tech community has also been criticized for its treatment of women. Taking the first step and showing awareness of the problem, a number of companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter now publish diversity stats. But the stats show the companies have a long way to go. Workforces at Google and Twitter, for example, are 70 percent male, and are over-represented by Caucasians and Asians.