As the leaders of the technology industry convened with the president-elect in Donald Trump's golden New York tower on Wednesday, leaders of tech's diversity movement gathered in a Mountain View, California, computer museum for a workshop on inclusion in Silicon Valley. A gulf even wider than the North American continent separated the two get-togethers.

It was the philosophical distance between the tech industry as it believes itself to be and the tech industry as it too often is.

One of the meetings worked toward building a better world where people of all backgrounds are invited and, with the help of technology, are afforded the same opportunity as any fellow person. The other was a homogenous gathering of billionaires paying their respects to a new leader who can either bless their tech kingdoms or crush them with unfavorable regulation.

"We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation," Trump told the room of tech leaders, which included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Alphabet (parent-company of Google) CEO Larry Page, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and several others.

"There's nobody like you in the world. There's nobody like the people in this room," Trump continued. "Anything we can do to help this go along, we're going to be there for you. You can call my people, you'll call me -- it doesn't make any difference -- we have no formal chain of command around here."

Back in the Bay Area, others in tech had gathered to exchange ideas on how to increase diversity of workers and leaders and improve the inclusion of people of all genders, races, religions, sexualities, and backgrounds.

"Inclusion, immigration, trade built my company, and my people care about that. And I'm going to fight for that, and I'm going to fight for it agnostic of politicians," said eBay CEO Devin Wenig after being asked whether Silicon Valley was capable of standing up to Trump's less-than-progressive policies.

"I will stand up for those issues," Wenig continued, speaking during "Inclusion in Silicon Valley," a workshop sponsored by The Atlantic magazine at the Computer History Museum. "Not only because it's my job as the CEO of eBay, but also because I believe it's the best path for our country."

As the workshop galloped through the often tension-inspiring issues around diversity -- such as making black people feel welcomed at companies like Google, tech companies giving back to their local communities, and the challenges entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups face in acquiring funding -- the tech executives in the room shared ideas for making Silicon Valley a more welcoming place. Meanwhile, another, more famous set of tech executives were paying court to a man whose campaign consisted of numerous racist, sexist, and xenophobic remarks and policy proposals.

Talk about cognitive dissonance.

After having such a tight knit relationship with the White House over the past eight years and supporting social causes that closely aligned with the Democratic Party platform -- such as gay marriage, net neutrality, and increased paths for immigration -- Silicon Valley's most powerful had grown used to not having to choose between their ideals and a cordial relationship with the executive branch. Now, their principles were being tested. Unlike Obama, who is rumored to be planning a move into venture capital after leaving the White House, Trump does not share their passion for technology. He said he wants to close parts of the internet. And he is vehemently opposed to increased immigration. He will, however, wield the same power as his predecessor.

And although many in the room opposed Trump or criticized him during election season -- Sandberg and Cook, for example, both donated to Clinton's campaign, while Bezos and Musk criticized the real estate mogul -- they were now there. They did not have to be -- the CEOs of Salesforce and Uber were notably absent -- but they were. And they all put on brave faces for the cameras and expressed enthusiasm in their statements.

I'm "super excited about the possibilities this could be the innovation administration," said Bezos during the meeting with a wide smile, just weeks after claiming that Trump's behavior "erodes our democracy around the edges." Musk, meanwhile, was announced on Wednesday as having accepted an advisory role to Trump.

Even though Trump's idea of making the world a better place is not the same as Silicon Valley's, he will be the president. And he will hold power that can hurt or help business leaders like those in the room. We saw a hint of that power from Trump, who pointedly left Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey out of the meeting after the San Francisco social network company opposed the administration in a variety of ways. Surrounded by Dorsey's peers, Trump used their presence to make his point -- fall in line or face the consequences.

"This is why you don't go to this meeting, because you were just used as a pawn. You were just used to threaten every other company that doesn't cooperate with Trump," said Leslie Miley, a tech diversity leader, long-time Silicon Valley executive, and the director of engineering at Slack.

Nowhere is the contrast between tech's ideal self and real self sharper than when it comes to the treatment of Muslims.

In the summer of 2015, a young Muslim teenager in Texas named Ahmed Mohamed was arrested after building a homemade clock and bringing it to his high school. Following the act of discrimination, Mohamed received an outpouring of outreach from around the country letting him know he was welcomed and appreciated. Among his well-wishers were Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, which met with the boy, had their CEO give him a public shoutout, and sent him tech gifts, respectively. The tech industry warmly embraced Mohamed because, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg put it, "Having the skill and ambition to build something cool should lead to applause, not arrest. The future belongs to people like Ahmed."

Not long after that, then-Republican candidate Trump suggested the idea of a database of information on Muslim individuals as one tactic to prevent ISIS and other terrorist groups from carrying out attacks in the U.S.

Now, with Trump weeks away from his inauguration, the tech industry is at a place where it can no longer ignore its identity crisis. The industry's top companies -- which are beloved around the globe by consumers who trust them with all kinds of sensitive and identifying data -- have been asked a question that brings their two selves to a crossroads: Would you, if asked by the Trump Administration, help build a Muslim registry?

So far, four companies -- Twitter, Lyft, Medium, and (after much prodding) Facebook -- have given a firm no. The rest have remained mum or declined comment.

"I can't speak for the rest of the Valley, but it breaks my heart," said Y-Vonne Hutchinson, diversity consultant and co-founder of Project Include, an organization that works with tech companies to help them improve their diversity.

"By showing up to that meeting, by serving on his advisory team, those very powerful people legitimized this man. More importantly, they legitimized everything he stands for; including the persecution of women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ persons, and the poor. And for what?" she said. "A couple of scraps off his table at best. I thought our industry was better than that. I really did."

Published on: Dec 15, 2016