As my Inc.com colleague Aleanna Siacon reported yesterday, a rising chorus of tech CEOs, from Mark Zuckerberg to Tim Cook, have spoken out against the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant parents from their children at the border.
But while lots of business leaders have condemned the abhorrent and inhumane policy, Uber's new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, just took extraordinary measures to help fight it. Like other CEOs, he took to social media to voice his outrage.
As a father, a citizen and an immigrant myself, the stories coming from our border break my heart. Families are the backbone of society. A policy that pulls them apart rather than building them up is immoral and just plain wrong. #KeepFamiliesTogether https://t.co/g2Cu40zvcX-- dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) June 19, 2018
He also urged employees to donate and speak out, and even pledged $100,000 of company money to the fight, but in a memo to staff Khosrowshahi went a step further: Uber is sending its legal team to help legal aid groups working to reunite families.
"Our Legal team is also reaching out to law firms with a strong commitment to pro bono work to explore immediate opportunities for Uber Legal to partner with them to help parents and children affected by these policies in any way we can," the company informed employees in the memo.
Immigrants sticking together
The move, as BI notes, isn't just an example of good corporate citizenship and basic decency in the face of humanitarian horror (though, first and foremost, it is that). It's also another savvy move by Khosrowshahi to improve the tarnished reputation the scandal-plagued company developed under its previous CEO, founder Travis Kalanick. A company that was once famous for sexism and pushing (if not sometimes outright breaking) the bounds of legality is now using its legal muscle to fight for victims rather than bully them.
But there's another aspect of this move that's worth noting as well: Khosrowshahi isn't just a champion of immigrants fleeing violence; he is one himself. Khosrowshahi's family fled the brewing Iranian revolution in 1978, settling with an uncle in Tarrytown, New York. And that wasn't the last time the family found its life turned upside down by geopolitics.
"My father had to go back to Iran to take care of his father when I was 13 and was detained for six years before returning. My mom was raising three kids without a dad," Khosrowshahi told BusinessWeek.
No wonder he is so committed to keeping America open to immigrants in search of a better, safer life. He also knows from firsthand experience just how many extraordinary businesses have been started by refugees, and how integral immigrants are to the story of American entrepreneurship.