Tech Day of Pink is an annual initiative launched in 2017 by The Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) to focus on raising awareness, educating, and fundraising for breast cancer research directly within the IT community in the fight to end breast cancer.
Michael W. Smith, CIO of ELC and Founder of Tech Day of Pink, was inspired by ELC's Breast Cancer Campaign, which began in 1992, to start this initiative. The annual event is held every second Thursday of October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This year's Tech Day of Pink falls on October 12, 2023, and encourages cybersecurity and IT professionals worldwide to show their support.
With the ELC Breast Cancer Campaign being such a well-established philanthropy, why did you decide to start Tech Day of Pink?
When I joined The Estée Lauder Companies in 2017, I was so impressed by the work of The Breast Cancer Campaign and was inspired by Evelyn H. Lauder's role in co-creating the iconic pink ribbon. I wanted to get involved and mobilize my own network and the global tech community towards this very important mission. This led me to create Tech Day of Pink (TDOP). Our goal is to unite technologists and IT professionals worldwide around breast cancer awareness, education, and fundraising, maximizing the collective impact in the fight against breast cancer.
It started small with a hashtag that individuals could share with a selfie. For every post, I and other CIOs and tech companies pledged to donate to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation® (BCRF), the largest private funder of breast cancer research—and metastatic breast cancer research—worldwide. Now in our seventh year, we have grown greatly, with millions of people and dozens of companies participating in this day—whether it be through social media posts, fundraising, or other events to raise awareness.
What do you wish more people knew about Tech Day of Pink?
I hope people understand how much their contributions, both through fundraising and awareness, make a real difference. The donations from TDOP to BCRF contribute to lifesaving research that truly makes an impact.
How do you see the cybersecurity and IT communities working together to help bring an end to breast cancer?
From my experience, the IT and cybersecurity communities are passionate about the causes they get behind. At ELC, I know our employees will rally for the issues they deeply care about. I knew there was so much potential in these communities to raise money and awareness for this very important cause.
TDOP wouldn't be what it is today if not for all the CIOs and other tech executives who get involved and encourage their teams to participate. I'm so grateful to have so many people reach out, looking for ways to get involved or suggesting their own resources and platforms to spread the word. That is what's so great about our industry and what makes me proud to work in this space every day.
How much money is TDOP looking to raise this year? Are there any specific goals outside of fundraising?
Last year, TDOP raised more than we ever have before, through our first-ever benefit concert, silent auction, walkathon, and more. Plus, we had more than 100 companies with approximately two million people participating worldwide. My goal every year has been to increase the scale of TDOP, so we are aiming to raise more money and get more companies involved this year. We will once again host our benefit concert, which I hope will have a great turn out this year, as well.
What is your most memorable experience with TDOP thus far?
I received a long note from Heidi Floyd, a survivor and breast cancer awareness and patient advocate, introducing herself and sharing her story. She told me how she was on a long flight back from speaking to survivors, in the middle of her own breast cancer treatment, when she first read about TDOP. She shared how much it meant to her to see the tech community rallying behind the mission to end breast cancer in our lifetime. I will never forget reading that email. She will be speaking to ELC employees this year, and I am so excited for her to share her story.
This year's TDOP will take place on Thursday, October 12, 2023. We invite technologists and IT professionals to post a picture of themselves wearing pink or a pink ribbon on social media and share what the pink ribbon means to them with the hashtags #TechInPink2023 and #TimeToEndBreastCancer. You can also donate directly to BCRF through TDOP's fundraising page.
For more ways to participate, visit the TechDayofPink.com.