Ahead of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield shared a touching note with employees about Dr. King, the civil rights movement and why the collaboration software’s office is closed today. With Butterfield’s permission, Slack engineer Erica Baker shared the note externally “not only because it touched [her] heart,” she wrote on Medium, “but because [she] thinks it’s an important message for everyone to read and absorb, not only Slack employees.”
Only 37% of employers in the U.S. offer MLK Day as a paid holiday, according to Bloomberg BNA’s Holiday Practices Survey. That means that less than two in five workers in the U.S. receive that day off. Instead of working today, Butterfield encouraged employees to take some time to reflect to think about Dr. King’s legacy and the people who were beaten, raped and/or killed because they stood up for their rights to vote and to have access to education and housing. Butterfield went on to write about how “profoundly shameful it is that there even ever had to be a ‘civil rights movement’.”
Although some progress has been made, there’s a long road ahead with a lot left to be done, Butterfield wrote.
“And it is on all of us to see it through,” he wrote. “There is only us, the people. And if we truly value solidarity at this company it is a good time to recognize, and remember, and recommit to standing with the people who lost their livelihoods, their limbs, and even their lives, merely asking for something as simple and basic and obvious as equal rights and equal protections under the law.”
Head on over to Medium to read Butterfield’s full message to Slack employees. Slack, which released its diversity report last September, is part of a handful of smaller, private tech companies to do so. Although Slack is 70% white, what’s notable is that the company has a much higher percentage of African-Americans in engineering (7%) than any other tech company that has reported its data.