- CEO of Google and Alphabet Sundar Pichai was honored for leading Google’s efforts to respond to Russia’s aggression and support refugees and displaced people throughout the world.
CEO of Google and Alphabet Sundar Pichai believes that the world has a responsibility “to ensure people everywhere can benefit from the opportunities technology creates.” Speaking at Atlantic Council’s Global Citizen Awards gala held Sept. 19 in New York City, he told attendees to “remain optimistic about the power of technology to improve lives.”
The Indian American CEO was honored for leading Google’s “efforts to respond to Russia’s aggression and support refugees and displaced people throughout the world,” according to an Atlantic Council press release. “Google has long supported immigrants, Dreamers and refugees,” he told the gathering and elaborated on the company’s efforts to support refugees and newcomers through its products. “It’s a cause that’s embedded in Google’s DNA, and it’s one I care deeply about,” he said.
More than 20 years ago when Pichai immigrated to the U.S., he was “met with open-mindedness, tolerance, and acceptance, all of which helped ease my path.” Recalling those times, he said what he remembers most are the people who made him feel welcome. “Because of them, I started to feel as much a part of this country as I did growing up in India.” While it was his choice to come to the U.S., “for refugees, it’s often not a choice at all,” he said. “That’s why we need to work even harder to make them feel supported in their journey.”
Pichai was among five recognized at the awards ceremony held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Those felicitated include Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and Forest Whitaker, an Academy Award-winning actor and UNESCO special envoy for peace and reconciliation. The gala also recognized former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, and the United Kingdom’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away earlier this month.
During his address, Pichai told the stories of people who have been “working tirelessly” to help Ukrainians facing “unspeakable hardship,” Atlantic Council’s assistant director of editorial Katherine Walla, deputy managing editor Daniel Malloy wrote on the website. He spoke about how a young Ukrainian child used Google Translate to build friendships at her new school in Poland. “The need is unprecedented,” Pichai said. “And so is the response.”
Giving examples of how communities across the U.S. welcome refugees from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and beyond, Pichai reminded the audience that “the private sector can scale these efforts and fill gaps with technical expertise, resourcing, and innovation.” As an immigrant from India, Pichai said that he feels compelled to “work even harder” to support refugees who, unlike him, have been forced to relocate.