By now, everyone knows that the momentous win for Donald Trump, the current president-elect of the United States of America, hasn’t been accepted graciously by many citizens. However, it’s interesting to note how the CEOs of various companies are addressing the issue with their employees.
Here are some of the letters that the CEOs of companies from diverse industries have sent to their employees.
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc.:
I’ve heard from many of you today about the presidential election. In a political contest where the candidates were so different and each received a similar number of popular votes, it’s inevitable that the aftermath leaves many of you with strong feelings.
We have a very diverse team of employees, including supporters of each of the candidates. Regardless of which candidate each of us supported as individuals, the only way to move forward is to move forward together. I recall something Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said 50 years ago: “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” This advice is timeless, and a reminder that we only do great work and improve the world by moving forward.
While there is discussion today about uncertainties ahead, you can be confident that Apple’s North Star hasn’t changed. Our products connect people everywhere, and they provide the tools for our customers to do great things to improve their lives and the world at large. Our company is open to all, and we celebrate the diversity of our team here in the United States and around the world — regardless of what they look like, where they come from, how they worship or who they love.
I’ve always looked at Apple as one big family and I encourage you to reach out to your co-workers if they are feeling anxious.
Let’s move forward — together!
It’s clear that Cook does expect some unrest within the company based on disagreements between employees, and is urging them to think ahead and embrace the diversity within their own company. Nothing new in there…just Cook’s version of a “pep talk” to placate Apple staff who didn’t get their woman into the White House?
Here’s the next letter, this one from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to his employees:
It’s a rainy Sunday morning in Seattle, we’ve turned the clocks back an hour, and I’m enjoying a French Press of my favorite coffee, Aged Sumatra. I woke up this morning feeling a bit anxious about Tuesday’s election. Regardless of the outcome, our nation will feel divided. Many Americans have allowed the vitriolic nature of the presidential campaign to ignite our differences and strip away our civility and dignity. In the process, we’ve lost faith in what we all know has always been true, the promise of America.
But you are the true promise of America.
My faith in you has me more optimistic than ever. Today, I’m not talking about our business or the Starbucks brand. I’m talking about you as a person. As a mother, a father, a daughter, a son, a sister, a brother, a neighbor, a citizen. I also am talking about we as people. We as Americans. And, I am talking about the people who have come before us, those who sacrificed so much to give us a better life than the lives they had. Each of us has a great responsibility to those who preceded us, as well as to “pay it forward” for the next generation. So what can we do? What will we do?
In the face of this epic, unseemly election and the concern we all share about the direction of our country and the lack of truth and void of leadership, we can still make a difference in the lives of the people we touch and influence every day. Kindness, compassion, empathy, and yes love is what we need. It is what we must display and share. We are all longing for a deeper sense of human connection and humanity because, when we are touched by it, it fills us up.
Start today by recognizing the power we have to walk in someone else’s shoes, to demonstrate understanding, and to strip away the differences that divide us. Let’s each embrace the universal virtues of respect and dignity, refusing to allow the hatred on cable news, the ugliness of our politics, and the lack of political role models for our kids to define us and to dictate how we treat each other. Rise above this moment to be the person that makes a positive difference in your neighborhood and community. Be the person who makes your family proud. Be the person who embodies the promise of America so others may see and feel the possibilities that come with being an American—today, tomorrow, and long after this Tuesday.
Like the drawing of so many faces with a single, unbroken line on this season’s green unity cup, we are all connected.
On this Sunday, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, know that I send you my love and respect.
Proud, as always, to be your partner,
At least in Shultz’s case he threw in the bit about the Unity Cup, but the letter has the same “father figure” tone as Cook’s letter. The only difference is, Shultz seems to have made it clear that he was disappointed that Trump won. That’s understandable, because in September, for the first time during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, he openly endorsed Hillary Clinton for the top job. Interestingly, when asked if he would someday run for president himself, he said: “I would never say never, but this is not the right time.”
Moving on to Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase. Here’s his letter to his staff:
We are going through a period of profound political and economic change around the world, and American citizens showed that deep desire for change in voting to elect Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. We have heard through democratic processes in both Europe and the United States the frustration that so many people have with the lack of economic opportunity and the challenges they face. We need to listen to those voices.
We have just been through one of the most contentious elections in memory, which can make it even harder to put our differences aside. But that makes it more important than ever to bind the wounds of our nation and to bring together Americans from all walks of life. Recognizing that our diversity is a core strength of our nation, we must all come together as fellow patriots to solve our most serious challenges.
Leaders from across the public, private and nonprofit sectors need to collaborate to find meaningful solutions that create economic growth and greater opportunity for all.
America is best when we come together with clear leadership, expertise and the political will to take on difficult challenges and get things done. No one should ever doubt the strength and resilience of our country and our democracy.
J.P. Morgan Chase has a proud history of supporting our communities and our countries. Through your outstanding efforts, we have built a great company that will continue to thrive – as we continue to focus on helping to serve our clients and communities. We will also continue to help address the important public policy issues of the day and the underlying economic challenges throughout the world.
I’m optimistic about America’s future and the role our company will continue to play as we help the nation address our challenges and move forward together.
Again the father figure stance, but that’s only natural. They are, after all, the role models for their employees. But if you’ll notice, the salutations in these letters goes from “Team” to “Dear Partners” to “Dear Colleagues”. That might possibly be the biggest clue as to how these corporate leaders look at their employees.
What’s in a Salutation? More Than You Think!
In Apple’s case, it looks like Cook sees all of Apple as a team – a diverse and geographically spread-out one, but a team, nonetheless. That’s the attitude of a head coach – a fatherly one. Schultz’s “Dear Partners”, however, shows a deeper relationship with his employees. Rarely does a CEO refer to his subordinates as “partners” unless he considers himself to be one of them. And in Dimon’s case, “colleagues” is as informal as you’ll get from a second-generation banker.
Cook’s use of “team” shows his awareness of an intangible distance between himself and the rest of the employees. And do you know where he got that from? Steve Jobs used the exact same salutation in an email to employees about his health back in 2009, when he advised them that Tim Cook would oversee day-to-day operations. Here’s that email:
I am sure all of you saw my letter last week sharing something very personal with the Apple community. Unfortunately, the curiosity over my personal health continues to be a distraction not only for me and my family, but everyone else at Apple as well. In addition, during the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought.
In order to take myself out of the limelight and focus on my health, and to allow everyone at Apple to focus on delivering extraordinary products, I have decided to take a medical leave of absence until the end of June.
I have asked Tim Cook to be responsible for Apple’s day to day operations, and I know he and the rest of the executive management team will do a great job. As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out. Our board of directors fully supports this plan.
I look forward to seeing all of you this summer.
The question is, can a simple yet important thing like a salutation be a clue to how these men run their companies, and the relationship they share with them – at least in their own minds?
Food for thought, and I’d love to see some more letters from the CEOs of companies that you work for. Please feel free to comment – we could be on to something!
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