Mozilla CEO expresses sorrow, vows to improve equality

Summary:In response to growing unease over Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich's 2008 donation to support banning same-sex marriage in California, the new CEO has vowed to make Mozilla an inclusive organisation.

New Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich has expressed his sorrow "at having caused pain" to Firefox users offended by his donation to the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign in California that saw same-sex marriage banned in the state.

The US$1,000 donation to the cause was picked up again this week after Eich's appointment as the  new CEO for the company , following nine years as its chief technology officer, despite Proposition 8 ultimately being ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Some users had threatened to boycott Mozilla's Firefox web browser as a result of Eich's appointment, while one developer for the platform said he would cease plans to release apps for Firefox.

In reaction to the backlash, Mozilla yesterday issued a response stating the company was committed to diversity in its organisation, but Eich overnight went one step further in a blog post stating he wanted to foster equality and make Mozilla a welcoming place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals.

He said Mozilla would have an active commitment to equality from employment to community-building events. The organisation would work with LGBT organisations, and ensure that health benefits and all other Mozilla policies are anti-discriminatory.

"[It is] my personal commitment to work on new initiatives to reach out to those who feel excluded or who have been marginalised in ways that makes their contributing to Mozilla and to open source difficult," Eich said.

"I know some will be skeptical about this, and that words alone will not change anything. I can only ask for your support to have the time to 'show, not tell'; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain."

He said he was committed to ensuring Mozilla is a place that includes and supports everyone.

"You will see exemplary behaviour from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products. Mozilla's inclusive health benefits policies will not regress in any way. And I will not tolerate behavior among community members that violates our Community Participation Guidelines or (for employees) our inclusive and non-discriminatory employment policies."

To that end, Eich announced the beginning of a new open source hacker course project known as Ascend, headed up by Lukas Blakk, and targeted at the underemployed, LGBT, Latino, and African American populations.

Participants will receive US$50 per day to attend the courses, with laptops, food, transport, and childcare all paid for during the six-week course.

Topics: Open Source

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Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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