qualifications for leadership

I’ve been surprised by the negative reaction to Brendan’s promotion by some of my fellow supporters of marriage equality. Perhaps I take it too much for granted that Mozillians recognize the diversity of their community in every possible respect, including politically and religiously, and that the only thing we share in common is our commitment to Mozilla’s mission and the principles for participation.

Those principles are reflected in our Community Participation Agreement, to which Brendan has always shown fealty (since long before it was formalized, in my 15-year experience with him), and which could not possibly be clearer about the welcoming nature of Mozilla to all constructive contributors.

I know that marriage equality has been a long, difficult, and painful battle, the kind that rubs nerves raw and makes it challenging to show any charity to its opponents. But they aren’t all bigots, and I take Brendan at his word and deed that he’s as committed as I am to the community’s inclusive ideals (and the organization’s employment policies).

As Andrew Sullivan eloquently states in his recent blog post on Religious Belief and Bigotry:

“Twenty years ago, I was confidently told by my leftist gay friends that Americans were all anti-gay bigots and would never, ever back marriage rights so I should stop trying to reason them out of their opposition. My friends were wrong. Americans are not all bigots. Not even close. They can be persuaded rather than attacked. And if we behave magnanimously and give maximal space for those who sincerely oppose us, then eventual persuasion will be more likely. And our victory more moral and more enduring.”

I’m chastened to admit that I substantially shared his friends’ opinion twenty years ago. But I’m happy to realize I was wrong. And perhaps Brendan will one day do the same. Either way, he qualifies to be a leader at any level in the Mozilla community (and organization), as do the many other Mozilla leaders whose beliefs undoubtedly differ sharply from my own.


Myk Melez

Myk is a Principal Software Architect and in-house entrepreneur at Mozilla. A Mozillian since 1999, he's contributed to the Web App Developer Initiative, PluotSorbet, Open Web Apps, Firefox OS Simulator, Jetpack, Raindrop, Snowl, Personas, Firefox, Thunderbird, and Bugzilla. He's just a cook. He's all out of bubblegum.


21 thoughts on “qualifications for leadership

  1. "you're not allowed to have that opinion, i don't share it, so please by fired as a CEO!"

    that's just as bad as what some believe they're fighting for. beside, he might even have changed his opinion, anyway.

    there is a very similar issue with the feminist movement, sadly. I think it deserves the cause.

  2. ""you're not allowed to have that opinion, i don't share it, so please by fired as a CEO!"""

    This little difference in opinion is that Eich doesn't think homosexual people deserve the same rights as heterosexual people. It is not minor at all.

    And Eich doesn't just have a different opinion. He put good money in making sure to remove rights from people.

    And Mozilla is not just a corporation, it is a foundation which claims to be making the web better.

    """He might even have changed his opinion, anyway"""

    So where's his apology? And a heart-felt apology wouldn't be enough. Obviously he would have to donate at least 10k or more to a LGBT cause before I even consider him as "changed his mind".
    Of course, Mozilla are entitled to make anyone their CEO. I am just as entitled not to ever trust Mozilla again with anything. No support for firefox, no support/app development for firefoxOS, and I am gonna call boycott of firefox wherever I can.

  3. I really like that Andrew Sullivan comment. I agree that I had little hope for change either (far less than 20 years ago). Its been pretty beautiful to see it come about through personal connections and persuasion instead of the angry battles I always assumed would have to happen. Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  4. Thank you for the sanity of this post.

    Isn't it many voices, one mozilla. The one mozilla being the fight for the mozilla mission. Void of all other political, religious, sexuality, etc… issues aside? That's what it has always been for me.

    Us not accepting his personal views and attacking him for it is just as bad as if he was to do the same the other way. Which within the scope of mozilla he never has (as far as I'm aware).

    I don't agree with his views, but he is entitled to them. Just as any other mozillian, nay, human being, is entitled to their own.

    These differing views should not cause problems working together on the shared ones in my opinion.

    Working open != easy. No-one ever claimed it would.

  5. What I want to know is has anyone who works with him asked him what his views are? He doesn't strike me a someone who is opposed to gay rights or equality.

    What if he's just for Marriage Privatization? Someone who believes marriage shouldn't be contract involving government. Or maybe he's just for Civil Unions? Which is basically marriage but just as a legal concept and not a religious one.

  6. What's interesting is that just a few years ago the majority of Americans were against gay marriage. It's undeniable that there's been a massive shift in opinion in the past few years. Some people went from against to for, others went from against to neutral, others went from neutral to for.

    All I'm reading from people objecting to Eich being CEO don't like the idea that policy (either vocal or implied) can change over time. Opinions, policy, or behavior isn't allowed to change.

    It's pretty sad that the people who claimed to be campaigning for gay rights were in fact masquerading as such. If you don't like the idea that people are adapting to a world with more gay rights, then what's the point of campaigning for change?

    There's nothing so far made public in his Mozilla track record to suggest a policy of discrimination, or efforts to diminish any group.

    I'd think this is actually a victory that someone who (years ago I should note) funded such groups has, and pledges to continue pushing for diversity.

    If we can't put more weight on current and recent actions than past actions, movements like the gay rights movement are destined to fail. It requires a shift to be made.

    If 100% of people supported gay marriage tomorrow, you're going to have about 50% who previously opposed it if you look back. That's not up for debate, it's just fact.

  7. vexorian: I deleted your second comment because of its shaming. I appreciate that you're angry about another commenter's opinion, and you're welcome to disagree with them and me, including vehemently, but you need to stay civil in this forum. Otherwise we're just shouting past each other without learning anything.

  8. Regarding Brendan's current opinion of marriage equality: I haven't asked him, and I don't know; nor do I know what he was thinking back when he made that donation.

    It's certainly a reasonable question. But it doesn't concern me any more than his other political beliefs; nor those of other Mozillians, whether volunteers, employees of the organization, or employees of other organizations.

    I agree to abide by the principles of the community, and provided you agree to do the same, we can work together, regardless of what you belief and express outside of the Mozilla community.

    Our mission as Mozillians is the Mozilla mission: to promote openness, innovation & opportunity on the Web. For which we need to work with people of all stripes.

  9. Myk, FWIW, vexorian's comments on my blog were so offending I closed the comments there and removed all comments. Feel free to delete mine from public view if you want. Take care.

  10. Google seems to be much more outspoken on gay rights.
    Can't Mozilla do the same?

    After all, we're talking about basic human rights here.

  11. Awesome post Myk.

    I only wanted to refer to one item on the bucketlist of demands I hear "Brendan has to apology".

    Well, I disagree with that. Nobody should apology unless they're convinced they did something wrong.

    And acting upon your beliefs is a sign of integrity.
    If he did in fact, at some point in time, believe that Prop8 is *a good thing*, then he acted properly by supporting it and demanding an apology is just an act of shaming him for it.

    Now. Of course the big question is why he believed that Prop8 is the right thing. I disagree with him, and so does majority of people here. But we don't know and unless you had a chance to sit down and talk with Brendan about his beliefs, then you don't know either.
    Building *any* assumption about him (calling him a bigot, homophobic etc) is a fallacy. We don't know. People are more complex than their oversimplified, single-dimensional images we create in our heads.
    I believe he was wrong, but I also believe that his viewpoint is way more complex than just being mirror opposite of mine.

    Now, at this point we come to "but he hurt people with his action". It's true, he did. Indirectly, but he did.

    But here come two counter-arguments:

    1) Financially supporting bills is a basic element of American democracy (unlike, say, European). It means that he expressed his political will this way. If you drag this further, you can argue that anyone who voted for Republicans should not be allowed to be CEO of Mozilla. Or anyone who is Catholic.
    We're balancing on the verge of ostracism against anyone who dares to disagree with us.

    2) If we agree that Brendan is a leader of Mozilla for many years now. And we agree that Mozilla is, at least partially, shaped by him. And we agree that Mozilla project, Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corporation, are all queer friendly, then we have to come to the conclusion that with his actions (or lack of action which is an action as well) he helped building the friendly place we're in. And by this, he did way more to build an inclusive environment than to harm it and gives him a great record to become our CEO.

  12. As a Chilean mozillian, I need to say that this issue is breaking my heart apart.

    I really like a lot Mozilla (from the Mozilla Suite times) and I like the work of Eich as in the Mozilla project as in Javascript. But, as CEO he needs to act more than a technician as a leader and in this case is failling in that.

    Is not what are his opinions of same-sex marriage, is about being honest, because for one side he supported Prop8 but for the other side he is saying that he believe in inclusiveness to LGBT people. Both ideas are incompatible, because I can't imagine how someone who dislike some group of people and at same time act to support them and believe they need it. And also because someone would find it and share all over the Internet.

    More than an apology he needs to say what he really believes because there isn't another chance for doing that.

    Even if he doesn't believe in same-sex marriage and even the LGBT community (I support that in my own country, and hopefully would be a reality in the new goverment) I could support him as a leader of Mozilla if

    A) He said that in a clear way without middle stuff and
    B) Step aside of anything related to inclusiveness because he isn't the best person for that job and probably would be against its own beliefs.

    It will be bad press, but not as much as now. Tomorrow Mozilla could lauch the most awesome web application ever, but it wouldn't be as news as this.

    (Apart, I can't really even imagine why the Foundation appointed him without evaluating this kind of consecuences. They don't use Google or DuckDuckGo?)

    I don't want a leader that share all my ideas because isn't possible. But I want someone that is honest and clear in his ideas, even the most unpopular ones if it can figurate how avoid becoming an obstacle.

    But now, Brendan Eich is doing a lot of damage to the project because he isn't acting like one, with honesty and responsability.

  13. Eduardo:
    > I can't imagine how someone who dislike some group of people and at same time act to support them and believe they need it. And also because someone would find it and share all over the Internet.

    I really believe that this is the core of the problem. You have to recognize that people are more complex than black/white images we paint in our heads.

    Brendan may be for Prop8 and in result against the form of same-sex marriage, and yet not divide people by their orientation.
    I would say that logically it will be incompatible, but people's views are not always compatible. We may understand that *logically* something is X, but emotionally or religiously we believe in Y. Those kind of conflicts exist within each of us (see this study on moral rationalization: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/experiments-in-philosophy/200804/what-s-the-matter-little-brothersister-action )

    He does not have to be intolerant to support Prop8. He may just be struggling between his beliefs and logic, and we all – including you and me – are.

    Instead, what I believe he has to do, is be a great leader, and not let his prejudice impact anything related to his work at Mozilla. Which he has proven to be perfectly capable of doing over and over for many years now.

  14. The CEO represents the company. If you personally believe in openness and equality for all, how do you compartmentalize your brain to be led by and represented by someone not open about his rationale for his specific action of opposing equality and then hiding behind the concept of "personal" when in fact his actions affected the "public"?

  15. Martijn: yes, the Mozilla organizations could be more outspoken about gay rights. How much more outspoken do you think we should be?

    Currently, we've spoken out in this statement on diversity, in which we say that we have "always been deeply committed to honoring diversity in sexual orientation and beliefs within our staff and community, across all the project’s activities" and provide "the same level of benefits and advantages to domestic partners as we do to married couples across the United States, even in states where it is not mandated."

    And Mitchell said in this blog post, "Speaking as the Chairwoman, I want to speak clearly on behalf of both the Mozilla Corporation and the Mozilla Foundation: Mozilla supports equality for all, explicitly including LGBT equality and marriage equality."

    Even more importantly, we've *acted* out by banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in our employment policies and providing equal benefits for same-sex relationships.

    And the broader Mozilla community has done the equivalent for all project participants via its Community Participation Guidelines, which welcomes all constructive contributors, explicitly including those of varied sexual orientation and gender identity.

    Mozilla, both its organizations and community, is thus best-in-class in this regard. And if you are like me and want to promote full equality, including but not limited to marriage equality, for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, then you should encourage and support organizations that speak and act out like Mozilla does!

  16. Anonymous: when we're on organization business, or participating in community activities, all Mozilla employees represent the organization and community; and we're all expected to act in accordance with the org's employment policies and the community's values.

    We also have the widest possible range of political and religious beliefs, and we need all of us to be able to work together at all levels of leadership in order to accomplish the challenging mission to which we've set ourselves.

    Brendan is just one example of the many people I work with but also undoubtedly disagree with about many issues. He isn't a special case just because he's the CEO. My expectation of him is the same as it is for anyone else I work with: to treat me and all other contributors equally regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, among other things. And I expect to be held to the same standard.

    Other than that, I do not impose a litmus test on personal belief or behavior outside of Mozilla activities, because any such test would invariably exclude many people who agree with me about the vital importance of the Mozilla mission and could help me achieve it.

    It's worth enlisting the broadest possible array of people in support of that mission, regardless of their personal beliefs, provided they respect Mozilla's values (and, in the case of employees, employment policies). I do that. Brendan does too. And that's enough for me to be able to work with him, to be led by him, to lead him, and to do all those things with all the other contributors who do the same.

  17. EduardoE, I'm with gandalf: Brendan can believe whatever he believes and still behave in accordance with Mozilla values and employment policies. Even if that seems contradictory, it's also exactly how he has behaved over the last 15 years that I've been a contributor, as far as I've seen and heard.

    Nor would I want him to apologize for acting on his beliefs, unless he's actually changed his mind.

    I would love to hear more about why he thinks the way he does (out of curiosity, and because I like discussing issues with people who disagree with me).

    But I respect his decision to keep it private, and I only require that he not act on those personal beliefs in a Mozilla context, where he, like all other Mozilla contributors, must act in accordance with Mozilla's values.

  18. Thank you for this – really thoughtful post. I remember meeting Brendan and thinking he was one of the brightest minds and greatest influencers. I haven't talked to him about the marriage equality issue, so I won't pretend to know what his believes are exactly. We have all made decisions that might not look good on our resume. Not recognizing what Brendan has added to not just the Mozilla community but the web in general seems non-liberal to me – as much as I support marriage equality. I understand that Mozilla stands for liberalism and equality. I would also be surprised if all the hundreds of thousands of people all around the world who has supported and created Mozilla had the exact same political views. Whether or not Brendan Eich is CEO or represent my views or Mozilla's – I will always respect him for all the work he's done.

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