According to Politico [politico.com], heads of some tech companies will be meeting with the President on Monday. But the lower echelons of techdom are pushing back on engagement with the Trump administration.
The fraught relationship between the country’s leading tech executives and President Donald Trump is about to get even more tense.
The latest uncomfortable moment arrives Monday, when top tech CEOs are expected to sit down with Trump at the White House to talk about modernizing government technology. Many of the companies have refused to confirm their attendance publicly, in a sign of how sensitive their dealings with the Trump administration have become in a liberal Silicon Valley that loathes his policies on issues like immigration and climate change.
Despite unease and rumblings from below, many are going to attend anyway.
Even so, executives from Google's parent Alphabet, IBM, Cisco and Oracle will be among those in attendance, as will billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel. Other corporate participants named in media reports include Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and possibly Facebook. Those four companies have all declined to comment on their plans despite repeated requests, and sources close to Alphabet and IBM only confirmed their participation Thursday. Companies declined to comment for this story.
Politico seems to think that tech workers have more clout with regard to the political activities of their bosses, an interesting point of view.
Indeed, as the leaders of multinational corporations, tech executives have a financial obligation to shareholders to engage the federal government, which sets key industry regulations and, in many cases, buys their products. Some, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, have expressed a moral and patriotic responsibility to weigh in on public policy matters where executives have expertise.
But now companies face growing pressure from their liberal employees and chunks of their customer base to resist the White House over its actions on immigration, climate change and transgender rights. And even though the CEOs have become more vocal in their criticism of Trump — over the Paris pullout, for example — their argument for continued engagement is becoming riskier as Trump’s political agenda skews further and further away from the progressive worldview.
And that could have workforce implications. Technology workers, particularly engineers, hold special sway over their bosses compared to employees in other industries. They have in-demand technical skills that companies often struggle to find, and often have more leeway to speak their mind with less fear of reprisal.
So is it true that tech workers have more pull than the average corporate cog? Will this affect technology policy of the Untied States of America?
[Interesting side note: in the photo at the head of the Politico article [politico.com], there is one place name to the right of President Trump, but the person is cut out of the picture. Hmmm.]