“The chief executive of Microsoft, Steven A. Ballmer, sent what company officials described as an unusual e-mail message on Friday evening to roughly 35,000 employees in the United States, defending Microsoft’s widely criticized decision not to support an antidiscrimination bill for gay people in Washington State this year,” Sarah Kershaw reports for The New York Times.
“The e-mail message came as company officials, inundated by internal messages from angry employees, withering attacks on the Web and biting criticism from gay rights groups, sought to quell rancor following the disclosure this week that the company, which had supported the bill in past years, did not do so this year. Critics argue that the decision resulted from pressure from a prominent local evangelical Christian church,” Kershaw reports.
“In his message, posted on several Web logs on Saturday and confirmed by company officials, Mr. Ballmer wrote that he had done ‘a lot of soul searching over the past 24 hours.’ He said that he and Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, both personally supported the bill but that the company had decided not to take an official stance on the legislation this year. He said they were pondering the role major corporations should play in larger social debates,” Kershaw reports.
“‘We are thinking hard about what is the right balance to strike – when should a public company take a position on a broader social issue, and when should it not?’ he wrote. ‘What message does the company taking a position send to its employees who have strongly held beliefs on the opposite side of the issue?’ Mr. Ballmer described the antidiscrimination measure as posing a ‘very difficult issue for many people, with strong emotions on all sides.’ He wrote, ‘both Bill and I actually both personally support this legislation,’ adding, ‘but that is my personal view, and I also know that many employees and shareholders would not agree with me,'” Kershaw reports.
Full article here.
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