Drawing a Line

Today we declare, as Tableau employees, that business-as-usual is no longer acceptable. We call on our company to publicly cease its policy of complicity towards the systematic human rights abuses being carried out by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In doing so, we join our colleagues from Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Github, Chef and others in the growing tech ethics employee movement. As a company and an industry, we must take ethical responsibility for our business relationships with organizations doing systemic harm, especially if our products enable that harm either directly or indirectly. These issues are complex, and reasonable people can disagree on the right approaches, but it’s clear to us that it’s time to draw a line.

Asylum seekers and migrants arriving to the US have been and are being systematically mistreated, abused, and denied their rights. Human lives that were already uprooted are being irreparably harmed, traumatized, and scapegoated. Some of this mistreatment goes back many years, but in the last few years it has become clear to all of us that the ever-increasing cruelty is an intentional and unnecessary part of an anti-immigration strategy. US Government agencies are among the primary perpetrators of these abuses, and are also significant users of technology sold by private-sector companies.

Four months ago, we authored a human rights employee resolution inside Tableau, requesting that we change our business policy and make a public statement regarding that action. Within a month, almost 20% of Tableau’s US workforce signed. After some promising engagement, those requests have been denied by our executives. They offered what we consider good-sounding-but-vague intentions, then declared their decision made and the internal discussion over. But our personal and professional ethics do not allow us to simply disagree and move on. As we resolved and have maintained, if our company will not use its corporate voice to lead on this issue, then workers will take the lead ourselves using our own voice and power.

Today, as we release this statement, we are also demonstrating in Seattle’s Gas Works Park, across the street from our headquarters. We’ve been proud to work at a values-driven company, and we are striving to dissent while remaining faithful to Tableau values, including respect, honesty, and working as a team. We invite more voices to join ours in compassionately calling them to engage further and make real progress. Though engagement is no substitute for action, it is the lack of serious negotiation and/or further internal discussion on this issue that compels us to expand our engagement to a broad audience.

We believe that the extended Tableau community (our #datafam) cares deeply about helping others. We believe that current and potential employees want to work for a company they can be proud of. And we believe that Tableau’s current and potential customers also increasingly care whether their business partners are compatible with their values. We invite these communities to add their voices to the quickly-evolving discussion rippling through Tableau, the tech industry, and society at large. Corporations and governments alike bend most surely to the will of the people — to what society collectively agrees is acceptable or unconscionable.

We refuse to remain open to complicity in the ongoing harm to migrants, whether they are incarcerated inside the US, denied due process rights at the border, or living in fear of being separated from their families. As Tableau employees with diverse backgrounds and points of view, we call out to our co-workers, our executives, our industry, and our society for collective action. We must look past politics to find the common principles of ethical responsibility towards our fellow human beings. Only then can we fulfill our “Tableau helps people…” mission with the energy and purpose that comes from knowing that our company won’t tolerate the usage of our work to systematically harm others.

Thank you, from the Tableau Employee Ethics Alliance.

#DrawALineTableau
Media inquiries: tableau.employee.ethics.alliance@gmail.com

Nov 11 — we’re publishing speeches from our Oct 29 rally in Seattle: