The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

These tech firms don’t observe MLK Day — and Jesse Jackson is calling them on it

The Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses a Civil Rights Summit in Austin, Tex., in April. (EPA/Ashley Landis)
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Tech companies are notoriously dominated by white men, as we've learned from their various diversity reports in the past year. Many firms have pledged to do better, citing the way inclusion fosters creativity and innovation.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson was a key figure last year in pressuring Silicon Valley to reveal its workforce demographics. Now, the civil rights leader is calling out the industry again. This time, it's for not taking an easy first step toward honoring those corporate commitments — just by giving folks the day off on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"This Monday only a handful of technology companies will close their doors and honor the King Holiday," Jackson said in an open letter to the tech industry. "It does not make sense to tout diversity and inclusion, to promote change and innovation and not recognize the King Holiday."

Workers at Google, Facebook and Twitter get MLK Day off, according to USA Today, but employees of other companies, such as Apple and Microsoft, don't.

A Microsoft spokesperson said the company gives its employees "two paid floating holidays a year, which many use to commemorate Dr. King."

In lieu of a day off, Apple has offered to temporarily boost the amount of money it donates to charity when its workers engage in community service work. From Jan. 19 through the end of March, Apple is doubling its contribution per hour of volunteer work from $25 to $50, according to Valleywag.

That's not quite enough for the Rev. Al Sharpton, who told Valleywag that he finds it hard to take tech companies at their word when they vow to improve diversity but don't observe "a national American holiday."