News that billionaire and Oracle co-founder and executive chairman Larry Ellison plans to hold “Golf Outing and Reception” fundraiser at his home in support of Donald Trump’s reelection campaign roiled employees of the tech giant. Though it has well earned a reputation as among the least outspoken tech giants, Oracle’s employees today began circulating a petition, calling the fundraiser a breach of corporate ethics.
“[The culture] encourages us to be apolitical,” the petition’s creator, Monica McClure, told Gizmodo. “It’s an old company. It’s not like a start-up where we’re being encouraged to discuss our ideas and have healthy debates about politics. So it struck me as a pretty brazen political move on Larry’s behalf that contrasts with the culture of leaving your politics at the door.”
“It’s really embarrassing because it almost feels like now we’re being misrepresented—we’re an organization of 136,000 people all over the world with diverse views,” McClure, who has been a senior copywriter at Oracle for a little over a year, added. “It casts a shadow over everyone.”
Above and beyond the company’s internal political neutrality, McClure claims, the near-absence of public dissent is due in part to the deep siloing of teams. Even the example of George Polisner, a veteran employee who resigned out of protest when Oracle CEO Safra Catz joined the Trump transition team in December of 2016, was described by McClure as an outlier.
At the time of this writing, a mere 92 people have signed, many of whom were likely within the Oracle Employees for Ethics Slack group, which helped generate the petition. However, a number of anonymous Oracle employees spoke to Vox recently, expressing their anger over Ellison’s decision. According to McClure, no one within the Slack group has claimed to have been in touch with Vox, suggesting other pockets of dissent exist—though the difficulty will be in bridging these siloed teams to identify them and build a meaningful coalition without incurring retributive action from management.
Oracle did not yet respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Oracle workers have previously circulated at least one other public petition, aimed at rebuking the Trump’s “travel ban” executive order. Two of the three individuals responsible for starting that petition, according to their LinkedIn profiles, are no longer with Oracle, although it’s unclear why they left the company.
While she fully her dissent “will not be received well” by her bosses, McClure does not believe she is in breach of any specific corporate policy by generating the petition.“I know there are things you can get in trouble for, such as lobbying for particular political candidates, but that would probably involve exchanges of money and fundraising,” she said. “I think that’s probably why the Larry fundraiser makes me so uncomfortable.”
Ellison is, of course, well-known for his support of right-wing political operatives like Senators Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell. And given the uphill cultural battle against dissent in Oracle, there are currently no plans more drastic than putting as many signatures as possible on the petition. Odds that Larry Ellison, a septuagenarian worth an estimated $69 billion, will cancel his little golf outing to appease fungible cogs in his vast and lucrative machine approach zero. Even so, McClure said, “we can’t just do nothing. It feels too gross to be complacent.”