Sunday, April 24, 2005

MS #2 Dances

Well, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, supposedly has the guts of the management team. At least he permitted publication of his response to the furor of his company dropping support for gay-rights legislation. It lost by one vote right after this, as described here.

Ballmer let his memo to 35,000 MS folk hit the Web. It's widely available, including here.

It is less than convincing or satisfying. It reads like what it is, huge company PR. He wrote:
When our government affairs team put together its list of its legislative priorities in Olympia before the Legislative Session began in January, we decided to focus on a limited number of issues that are more directly related to our business such as computer privacy, education, and competitiveness. The anti-discrimination bill was not on this list and as a result Microsoft was not actively supporting the bill in the Legislature this year, although last year we did provide a letter of support for similar legislation.
He also claimed that "while the company was not taking a position on HB 1515, the company remains strongly committed to its internal policies supporting anti-discrimination and industry-leading benefits for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees." Of course, that's so many words and does not jibe with reality of MS knowing this legislation was up for a vote and that "committed" to anti-discrimination means acting not posturing.

The memo added:
I understand that many employees may disagree with the company's decision to tighten the focus of our agenda for this year's legislative session in Olympia. But I want every employee to understand that the decision to take a neutral stance on this bill was taken before the Session began based on a desire to focus our legislative efforts, not in reaction to any outside pressure.
So, that is supposed to make it okay that the silent sanction MS gave to the anti-rights people was its own decision. It can foster discrimination through inaction – without any outside bigots forcing it to do so.

Sorry about your rights. You have them inside the Microsoft campus. What'd ya want?

If employees wanted to know what Microsoft's commitment means, they should have gotten it this time.

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