Marriott CEO: When We Take Democracy for Granted

Originally published on LinkedIn by Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International.

This message was originally sent as an email to Marriott International associates.

Dear Marriott International Associates,

I have to admit to being at a bit of a loss for words after the events that transpired at the United States Capitol yesterday. But I wanted to connect with you, our associates in the United States and our associates around the world who work for an American company, in the aftermath of this unprecedented moment.

Yesterday, we saw American history unfolding before our eyes in real time. Democracy was put to the test like never before after a group of insurgents used violence to temporarily stop the counting of electoral votes in Congress for the U.S. presidential election.

It was a stunning, outrageous, and unprecedented attack against this nation and an attempt to disenfranchise millions of Americans. The violent riots, which resulted in protestors smashing windows, scaling the Capitol building and entering the Senate Chamber, have drawn the condemnation of world leaders.

Late last night, members of Congress returned to Capitol Hill – clearly shaken but resolute in their commitment to both doing their job and sending a powerful signal that democracy will stand. In the early morning hours, Congress certified President-elect Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

Civil debate has always been a cornerstone of the United States. America’s founding fathers created a constitutional government to allow for a wide range of views and to encourage discourse to reach consensus. Their work has provided a blueprint for other democracies and shines particularly bright with the peaceful transition of power, which has defined the U.S. presidential electoral process from the start.

I recognize that we have associates who have very different views on the results of this election and the direction of the United States. We serve guests who also have a wide range of opinions and perspectives. In the U.S., we can use our voice and our vote to share our views. But what we can’t do is trample the Constitution; we can’t use violence and terror to force an agenda. It’s not who we are – and I would offer, it’s not what the vast majority of Americans want.

I also want to acknowledge the efforts of our associates in Washington, D.C., as well as our Global Safety and Security teams for their work on the front lines yesterday. They join so many of our associates who have been working through unrest in other parts of the U.S. and the world. We are grateful to all of these associates for their dedication and professionalism under such trying circumstances.

My sincere hope is that we learn from this unspeakable tragedy. We have big challenges facing us – now is the time to focus on unity for our country, defeating the pandemic and building a fair economy. The best path forward to meet these challenges is for all Americans to defend our democracy by embracing its ideals. It’s something we’ve been devoted to since the founding of the United States. I have every confidence that we will move beyond this moment and restore our sense of community and shared values.

Be well.

Arne M. Sorenson

President and Chief Executive Officer