Jump to content United States-English
HP.com Home Products and Services Support and Drivers Solutions How to Buy
» Contact HP

HP.com home
Executive team  >  Carly Fiorina speeches



Company information


Executive team

» Board of directors
» Executive Calendar
» Former CEOs

Related links

» About us
» Newsroom
» Investor relations

Content starts here

APRIL 30, 2003

© Copyright 2003 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P
All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission from HP.

Thank you.

This is actually the third time that I’ve had an opportunity to participate in this conference and it is wonderful to be back. It is always special to share a stage with the Reverend, but never more so than this year.

I’m sure most of you know this, but for those of you maybe who don’t, this spring is the 40th anniversary of the day that Jesse Jackson led his very first march against segregation, when he was a student at North Carolina A&T University.

The Greeks once said that the greatest achievement one person can attain is the full use of your talents along the lines of excellence.  And in the past 40 years, there are very few people who have used their talent along lines of excellence to achieve more things for more people in more places than Reverend Jackson.  And we are all better off for his leadership.

I’d like to share a personal story with about Reverend Jackson…

Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a battle such as we were at HP, you don’t realize how other people see that battle – you’re just focused on doing what you have to do. And frankly, it got to the point where I didn’t really want to read anything else about the battle, because reading about it distracted me. But one day, I got a phone call from the Reverend, and in the middle of everything else that he had going on, he called me to say basically, “You hang in there, girl.”  And he also called me to pray.  And that meant a lot to me.

But also in a funny kind of way, it suddenly made me realize just how big a battle this really was.  I hung up the phone and said, ‘Oh my God, I’ve just been praying with the Reverend Jackson.’

There is also an old story that I’m reminded of whenever I come to this event.  It’s the story of a little boy who was pulling his wagon one day when the back wheels fell off.  And he looked at the wagon and said, “I’ll be damned.”  So, he put the wheels back on the wagon, he walked a little further, and the wheels fell off again.  And he said, “Well, I’ll be damned.”

This time there was a minister walking by and he overheard him.  The minister went up to the little boy and said, “Son, when something bad happens to you, you shouldn’t curse.  You should praise the Lord for all the good things in your life.”  So the boy nodded and put the wheels back on and the two of them walked a little further.  And sure enough, the wheels fell off again.

This time, remembering what the reverend had said, the little boy said, “Praise the Lord.”  Sure enough, the two wheels turned on their side, jumped up off the pavement and reattached themselves to the wagon.

And the minister took one look and said, “Well, I’ll be damned.”

Now I mention that story because it happens to be the same reaction you get every time an under-served community starts to create jobs and create businesses when it is given even the slightest chance to succeed. The message of this conference, the message of this organization, is that in every community in America, there is a hidden power just waiting to be tapped…waiting to be unleashed…waiting to be discovered.  And if we can tap into that power, if we can help provide that opportunity, we will take any community and we will take this country to places it has never been before.

I am here today because at Hewlett-Packard, we believe that it is not just the business of government to tap into that power; it is not just the business of nonprofit organizations to tap into that power; it is not just the business of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition to tap into that power – it is the business of business to tap into that power.

If we have learned anything in this economy, we have learned that opportunity is not just good economic policy, it is good business.  Inclusion isn’t just good social policy, it is good business.  Diversity isn’t just good community policy, it is increasingly not only good business, but it is what separates winners from losers in the marketplace.

There used to be a time when we could blame lack of opportunity on physical things, like ‘the railroad doesn’t come through here,’ or ‘highways don’t come through here.’  But the trade routes of the information age run through every city, every town, every community in America.  We no longer have an excuse to leave people and communities behind.

For too many years, it has been too easy to assume that just because people didn’t have opportunity, they didn’t have talent.  What the digital age is helping to prove – what all of you are helping to prove – is that those assumptions and those ugly stigmas are wrong.  Not only does every single person have the potential to lead and make a difference inside them, but the right use of technology can help unlock that potential and create opportunities for everyone.

Three years ago, I was honored to come to a stage like this as keynote speaker for the very first Silicon Valley Digital Connections Conference.  And on that day, for those of you who were there, I said the time for talking was over.  As a community, business needed to move beyond rhetoric and match our good intentions with equally good commitments. I announced on that day that HP was kicking off a campaign to help close the gap between technology-enabled communities and technology-excluded communities.

We called our campaign e-inclusion, and I announced that we would begin the campaign with a commitment of $5 million per community.

While the money represented an important part of that campaign, even more, we also built off of a lesson that Rainbow/PUSH has helped teach us all: that financial capital alone is not the greatest wealth we can bring to under-served communities.  It is also human capital.  It is experience and knowledge, and the ability to translate that into capacity building.

As part of our campaign, we announced that we would be committing that human capital by putting teams of our best and brightest employees on the ground in different communities for a period of up to three years, to work with local citizens to set goals and create solutions for the challenges that the community prizes – and then work together to help get them done.

We called these communities “digital villages,” and we figured that the perfect candidate for our very first digital village was right here in our own back yard, in East Palo Alto. We started here among other reasons, because we didn’t think it was right for the technology boom that was happening in Silicon Valley to pass by our neighbor in East Palo Alto.

Now if you’ve met people of East Palo Alto, and a number of them are here, you know why we had such faith…that with even a glimmer of opportunity, they could accomplish great things.  And if you have met the person that we put in charge of running this campaign, you know why I had so much faith in HP’s ability to help get the job done.

I want to introduce Janiece Evans Page, who has led our efforts in Palo Alto, and I am here to tell you that neither Janiece nor the people of East Palo Alto have let us down.  I’m also very proud to tell you that the Reverend honored us with his presence there yesterday, as we celebrated the third anniversary of the East Palo Alto Digital Village. It is an anniversary that East Palo Alto hasn’t just celebrated with cakes and balloons, more important, it is an anniversary they have celebrated by creating more jobs and more businesses.

So let me brag a little bit about what East Palo Alto and Janiece have done…

Working with Butch Wing and Rainbow/PUSH, the people of East Palo Alto have taken the HP commitment and created a small business development initiative.  It is managed by the visionaries at a non-profit organization called Startup.

From a small business base that was sitting completely untapped three years ago, they have worked with more than 100 businesses, created more than 150 jobs, and generated almost $3 million in revenue the past two years.

I spent some time in East Palo Alto last summer with local businesses, and some of my favorite comments came from small business owners. For example, “Technology has given me the ability to come across as a professional business – printing invoices and business cards – and nobody knows that I’m running the business from my own kitchen table.”

That’s what we mean when we say technology can help leapfrog months or even years of development.  It is not about talent; the talent is there.  It is about opportunity.

The people of East Palo Alto also took the HP commitment and targeted it towards schools.  At one school, Belle Haven Elementary, that meant 400 laptop computers to kids in grades four through eight. Not only did they – with our help – work to train teachers, they worked to train parents, as well.  And for me, the proof point comes at recess time, when I’m told it’s not an uncommon site to walk through the school yard and see kids sitting on the curb with jackets over their heads.  Not to hide from other students, but to hide from the glare of the sun so they can work on their computers.

It is not about talent; the talent is there.  It is about opportunity. 

Travel a little bit across town to East San Jose, and you can see what technology grants helped students do.  Downtown College Prep is a school that targets the children of immigrants with “D” and “F” averages who don’t speak English as a first language.  And the sole intention of this institution is to prepare these kids for college.

In just two years’ time, the use of information technology has helped the average grade point average jump by nearly a point, and the average reading level jump by three grades.

It is not about talent; the talent is there.  It is about opportunity.

The people of East Palo Alto have also taken the HP commitment, worked with Plugged-In, One East Palo Alto, and all the digital village lead organizations – including Rainbow/PUSH – and created an online resource center that provides East Palo Alto residents and organizations with information about the community and the city.

And to help people access this information, they have created three safe and easy-to-get-to, welcoming technology access points, where local residents can learn how to use computers and access the Internet, receiving online health and other relevant information. Community leaders took it one step further in providing technology tools to more than 30 small, nonprofit organizations that had limited access to technology, and now they are providing even more services through the Web.

It is not about talent; the talent is there.  It is about opportunity.

And now, the community is working to create a community academy with state-of-the-art employment and skills training, and to build on the projects begun over the past three years to give even more local residents access to the social and economic and technological opportunities in the digital age.

Now, it’s important to understand that this is not imported success.  This is not imposed success.  The progress we have seen the past two years in East Palo Alto is home-grown, bottom-up, grassroots progress.

We at HP may have added fuel to the dream, but the dream started with the people of that community.  And now, what we see is a community more empowered by the desire to create a brighter future for itself – and that is what sustainable development is all about.

Now from our perspective, we get as much out of this as anyone else.  And one of the things we’ve gotten out of this learning from East Palo Alto is that it has allowed us to take that same model to two other cities.  First in East Baltimore, and second with a tribal council made up of 18 Native American villages in San Diego. And each of those communities came with the same $5 million commitment, as well as the resources, the talent, and the backing of our entire company.

In East Baltimore, you can visit their new computer hub based in the Great Blacks in Wax museum, which not only provides basic computer training and educational opportunities like GED prep, but it also provides a unique link to African-American history.

And at five schools, teachers are now using laptop computers in their classrooms, which is a big deal in East Baltimore. 

In San Diego, one of our goals was to build a wireless backbone to provide high-speed access to all 18 tribes to allow them to communicate.  When we started working there, there was no technical expertise in the community, but from the beginning, there were three guys in their early-20s, who knew nothing about wireless technology or computing – but they knew what they wanted to do, and they had been hungry for knowledge. So, in working with mentors, these three guys have built almost the entire network.

And so now, technology is literally a bridge between these tribes, rather than a divide.  Once a week, kids from the Native American community actually do live video conferencing between the community resource centers and mentors at UC San Diego, who help the kids do their homework.

Once again, it is not about talent, it is not about lack of ambition.  The talent is there; the ambition is there.  It is about opportunity.

The learning we’ve done with Rainbow/PUSH and the citizens in these three digital villages has helped us in applying our resources elsewhere.  And today, for instance, we’ve used the experience that’s come up out of Startup in East Palo Alto and we’ve taken a page out of the Rainbow/PUSH handbook to launch a micro-enterprise development initiative.  Our goal is to partner with micro-enterprise development agencies around the country to expand their capacity, and to help provide technology and training to local entrepreneurs.

When we announced this program, we expected we’d get about 100 applications – we got more than 500.  And among the nine grant winners in this first round, I’m pleased to say that one is a local winner, the Renaissance Center in Bay View’s Hunter’s Point.

We are also working with the Magic Johnson Foundation to bridge the digital divide by bringing resources and training to even more under-served communities.  Together we’ve supported the development and implementation of 11 Magic Johnson innovation centers in communities from Los Angeles to Washington, to Atlanta, with more in the year to come.

And together with Butch Wing and the staff here at Rainbow/PUSH, we are now working to build on the terrific 1000-Churches Initiative that Rainbow launched in 2001. And this time, instead of focusing on money management, we are working to bring technology access centers to church basements across the country, to bring resources and equipment, to give people access to the tools of this modern age in some of the safest and most welcoming environments in their lives.

Our experience at these three digital villages that I talked about is also allowing us to take this learning further. Now, we’re developing next-generation digital villages in India, in South Africa and in Houston, Texas – where we’re working with local residents and governments and NGOs to create scaleable, sustainable, replicable models of development.  And we call this next generation I-Communities.

In South Africa last summer, President Mbeki helped us launch our new I-Community there, and I had an experience that I will never forget.

I was visiting a community center that HP had helped build, and I came upon an older man who was sitting at a computer.  He had been surfing the Internet for the first time in his life, and his hands were literally trembling with excitement. I asked him why he seemed so moved by the experience.  I just knew he was going to tell me about the incredible technology – its design, its capabilities.  That isn’t what he told me.  Instead, he said, “Looking into this screen, I see a world that I never knew existed.”

And I realized that the trip he was taking for the very first time was allowing him to travel across continents, and see the wider world around him.  He was literally seeing the world for the first time.

And in a larger sense, that same kind of journey – whether it’s applied to tele-medicine, or distance learning, or e-commerce – that is the journey that our technology makes possible.  And providing that opportunity isn’t up to any one of us, it is up to all of us.  Now, while we seek to lead in communities around the world, we realize that leadership must begin in our own community and our own company first. 

Over the past three years, HP has been proud to provide e-inclusion-related grants to nearly 30 local partners.  In addition to being a sponsor of this conference every year, we are also delighted to work with so many organizations that are doing such great work for our community.  From the Bay Area Urban League and Bay Area Black Fund, to the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility, the Les Brown Youth Conference, the National Black Women’s Health Project, among others.

And, as a company with employees in 160 countries around the world, and a presence in every major community in America, we understand the importance of diversity and the link to our business success.

Our commitment to not just to the community, but to our workplace and to the marketplace around the world; and of course, while we celebrate great progress, we also know we have a long way to go. But fundamentally, this is an issue of enlightened self-interest.  As a company with the word “invent” in our logo, we know that diversity drives creativity, creativity drives invention, and invention for us drives profitability, growth and success.

To other companies who are thinking about getting involved, we join Rainbow/PUSH in saying: just do it. First of all, because it’s the right thing to do – because our economy and our world are made stronger when all voices are heard, and diversity is given a chance to succeed.

And second, because it’s the smart thing to do; your success is our success.  Because somebody you helped to help themselves today, may very well be your partner or your customer, or your very best employee – tomorrow.

Frankly, if we look beyond the next quarter or two, particularly for an industry like high-tech, where today only 10 percent of the world can afford to buy our products, we have to acknowledge that many of the ideas, the people, the markets of the future will come from under-served communities. The truth is that there has never been a time when it was more obvious than today that doing the right thing also means doing the smart business thing.

Nearly 20 years ago, Reverend Jackson said that no generation can choose the age or circumstance in which it is born.  But through leadership, it can choose to make the age in which it is born, an age of enlightenment, an age of jobs, peace, and justice. And together I believe we can help make the age of information the age of enlightenment for everyone.  We know it is not a question of talent; the talent is there.  It is a question of opportunity.

And so today, three years later, I pledge to you that at Hewlett-Packard we will continue to do all that we can to provide the opportunities, so that we can take advantage of that talent…so that we can help develop that talent…so that we can create opportunities to turn that wonderful goal that Reverend Jackson spoke of 20 years ago, into reality.

Thank you very much.

Printable version
Privacy statement Using this site means you accept its terms Feedback to webmaster
© 2012 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P.