RACHEL CAMPOS-DUFFY (CO-HOST): So many employees feel captive in their workplaces. And a lot of it is coming from the H.R. department. What can an employee do if they’re in a corporation that they feel they can’t be themselves or say what they think, or they feel captive in way to these woke policies?
VIVEK RAMASWAMY (GUEST): So, look, I think that employees today have a civic duty and a duty to their companies to speak their minds openly. Because, Rachel, I can tell you, there has never been a time in my adult life where there has been a bigger gap between what people were willing to say in private, and what people were willing to say in public. And I just think that is such an indictment of our civic culture.
And I’ll tell you something, I think that diversity of thought is really important in corporate America. I think innovation depends on it, I think our culture depends on it. Yet the odd thing is, in the name of diversity of thought, we have actually sacrificed it in the name of this new capital-"D diversity movement. And so the goal of this event, the reason why I agreed to speak when Kenny [Xu], the founder of the organization, asked me to headline this, was that, you know what, I think a lot of this can be done in a bottom-up way where employees can recreate that culture in their place of work by just speaking their minds openly. I think that’s the goal we’re trying to drive.
CAMPOS-DUFFY: I think it's great. But you have to admit, Vivek, there are consequences to that. If you speak your mind — and I think everyone should, and I think it’s a great thing to do — but let's be honest, it means you might not rise up in the corporate ladder.
RAMASWAMY: It’s even worse than that. I mean, many employees over the last couple of years have been fired for taking the wrong political position, for saying the wrong thing. And I think America is not a place that’s supposed to force you to choose between putting food on the dinner table and speaking your mind openly, between the American Dream and the First Amendment. We are the country where you get to enjoy both of those things at once.
And look, I think a lot of this is driven top-down by the shareholders of these companies. I’ve talked about that extensively. But I do think there’s a call to action from employees, that yes, it may involve some level of risk. But that’s why we’re getting a full group of people together to say that if everyone does this together, that can actually drive a changing culture and help the courage be as infectious as the culture of fear has been over the last few years.
CAMPOS-DUFFY: So, Vivek, talk to me a little bit about this webinar. What do you hope to achieve in this webinar, both yourself as a speaker and Color Us United?
RAMASWAMY: Look, I hope to leave people with the sense that they’re not really alone, actually. There’s a great obsession in corporate America today with making sure the executive ranks and the boards of directors look like the rest of the way America looks — without at all focusing on whether they actually think the way the rest of America thinks, which I think is actually more important.
And so, my goal is to really say that, you know what, if you’re the only person in the room who has a point of view, you have an obligation to speak up. But my commitment to you in return is that when you do, you’re probably going to find that you weren’t the only person in the room that had that point of view, as well. And I’ve been telling employees that one at a time. But now if we’re able to say it on a national basis as a large group, I hope we can together drive the kind of positive cultural change that actually breaks down barriers between people, reopens dialogue. And that’s actually what brings us together, not reciting some slogan that the human resources department taught you to say.