It’s rare for defense CEOs to speak out about social or political issues, but many spent the early part of the week doing just that, sending internal messages to their employees and posting to social media about racism in America.
In many cases, their messages went out days before military leaders issued their own calls for reflection on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The death of George Floyd was the result of a reprehensible act,” Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes said in a June 1 note to employees — a reference to the black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer last week. “Although authorities are taking action to ensure justice, the national response and global dialogue related to Mr. Floyd’s death point to a serious issue ― and we must not look away.
“We must take notice,” Hayes continued. “We have to respond clearly that racism, discrimination and hatred will not be tolerated. We must take this moment to embrace the fundamental values that unite us.”
Northrop Grumman CEO Kathy Warden wrote her own note to employees, a copy of which was obtained by Defense One: “I am deeply saddened and concerned about the acts of senseless violence against Black men and women in our society. I know many of you are struggling right now, and I want you to know that on behalf of our company and as an individual, I stand with you. Now is the time for unity.”
Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, on the job just six months, wrote in a May 29 note to employees that the company has a zero-tolerance policy for people who discriminate.
“There is no room in our company for them, and in fact in my short time as your CEO we have already terminated individuals for engaging in that behavior,” Calhoun wrote.
In a LinkedIn post, Bill Brown, the CEO of L3 Harris Technologies, said: “Change is necessary – and we all need to be part of the solution.”
Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson told employees that she “was shocked and deeply saddened watching the recent events surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests and unrest across the United States.”
“The reaction of anger, shock, and frustration in communities across the nation has created a moment for each of us to assess how we engage, interact, respect and value each other as human beings,” Hewson said.