Deloitte employees are circulating a petition saying they have “moral objections” to the Big 4 firm providing consulting for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are asking management to sever ties with the immigration agency, the New York Times reported on July 12.
According to the petition and internal emails obtained by the New York Times, Deloitte workers have asked CEO Cathy Engelbert to end the firm’s contracts with both ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and said the firm must take a public stance against the Trump administration policy that led to children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
As of early afternoon on Thursday, more than 750 names were included on the petition.
The article states that Deloitte’s contracts with ICE include one for “administrative and data/records management support services” for the division dealing with detention and removal of unauthorized immigrants. That contract was signed in 2015 and is worth as much as $5.3 million, according to the article.
Besides asking the firm to “take a stand against the mistreatment of human beings,” Deloitte employees wrote in an email to Engelbert that the firm “must question how its services and offerings to these agencies contribute to ongoing injustice.”
The petition and employee email also pointed to a July 9 New York Times article about rival consultancy firm McKinsey & Co. recently stopping its work for ICE.
How did Engelbert respond to employees?
Ms. Engelbert said she appreciated their voicing concerns to her. “We often talk about fostering courageous conversations,” she said. “That is what our culture of courage is all about.”
Daniel Helfrich, who heads Deloitte’s government practice, told his employees via an email on Thursday that the firm’s work for the immigration and border agencies “does not directly or indirectly support the separation of families” and asked that employees “remember that these high-visibility situations create stress for our clients too,” adding that “our empathy in these moments is essential,” according to the New York Times.
Deloitte spokesperson Jonathan Gandal told the New York Times in a statement that employees’ response to management’s explanation of the work “has been overwhelmingly positive.” But as the article points out, neither Engelbert nor Helfrich indicated that the firm would end its contract with ICE.
It’ll be interesting to see if Deloitte caves to employee pressure and ceases its work with ICE.