Who’s Left on Trump’s Business Councils?

Which CEOs have — and have not — responded to President Trump’s handling of Charlottesville?

Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO / REUTERS

During a critical time for business leaders, CEOs and other company leaders have faced decisions. Some chose to remove themselves from White House business councils after President Donald Trump did not immediately disavow white supremacy after violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., left one counter-protester dead and many others injured.

Trump blamed “both sides” for the violence that struck last weekend. And he doubled down on these remarks later.

“You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, okay?” Trump said. “And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

Some counter-protesters were “fine people,” the president added, but some were also “troublemakers” in “black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats … You had a lot of bad people in the other group.”

CEOs have a duty to respond — and people are listening. Author and filmmaker Michael Moore took to Twitter late Tuesday night to call for a boycott against companies and brands that have not stepped down from any of Trump’s councils.

U.S. military leaders also took to Twitter to condemn the hatred and bigotry.

Some CEOs have opted to speak out against Trump, with some taking action and leaving his councils. Here’s who’s left and who’s out.

Manufacturing Jobs Initiative

Trump announced this initiative in January and tapped “some of the world’s most successful and creative business leaders.”

Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company

Liveris has not indicated that he will leave the council. He issued a statement on the company’s Twitter page and said, “Dow will continue to work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of the communities where it operates.

Bill Brown, Harris Corporation

Brown does not appear to have made a public statement at this time.

Michael Dell, Dell Technologies

A spokesperson for Dell (No. 26 on the DiversityInc 2017 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) reported to Business Insider: “While we wouldn’t comment on any member’s personal decision, there’s no change in Dell engaging with the Trump administration and governments around the world to share our perspective on policy issues that affect our company, customers, and employees.”

John Ferriola, Nucor Corporation

Ferriola will remain on the council. The company reported to Fortune, “At Nucor, we condemn the violence that occurred this past weekend in Charlottesville and reject the hate, bigotry, and racism expressed at the demonstration. As North America’s largest steel producer, Nucor has engaged with several administrations to work on policies that help strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector and provide opportunities for American workers. We believe a strong manufacturing sector is the backbone of a strong economy, and we will continue to serve as a member of the White House Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.”

Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Corporation

Fettig will remain on the council. According to the LA Times, “Whirlpool said its CEO, Jeff Fettig, is staying on the council to “represent our industry, our 15,000 U.S. workers, and to provide input and advice on ways to create jobs and strengthen U.S. manufacturing competitiveness.” (Fettig announced in June that he will be stepping down as CEO of Whirlpool, effective Oct. 1.)

Ken Frazier, Merck & Co., Inc.

Frazier was the first to announce his departure on Monday. The company posted Frazier’s statement on Twitter. (The only person of color to have been on the council, Frazier was also the only one Trump called out personally via Twitter.)

Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson’s (No. 5) Gorsky will remain on the council. Business Insider reported an emailed statement attributed to Gorsky:

“At Johnson & Johnson we are deeply saddened by the horrific events that occurred in Charlottesville this past weekend. Intolerance, racism, and violence have no place in our society. Several members have made the decision to leave President Trump’s White House Manufacturing Advisory Council, and I respect their decision as a matter of personal conscience. Given the events of the past few days, I can understand the concerns—even the fear—that some people have expressed. These are difficult days for everyone. In the end, I have concluded that Johnson & Johnson has a responsibility to remain engaged, not as a way to support any specific political agenda, but as a way to represent the values of Our Credo as crucial public policy is discussed and developed.”

Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp.

Hayes does not appear to have made a public statement at this time.

Marilynn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Hewson appears to be remaining on the council. The company reported to ThinkProgress, “Thanks for checking in. Marillyn Hewson is a member of the manufacturing council. We don’t have a comment.”

Jeff Immelt, General Electric

Immelt will remain on the council. Several media outlets reported a company representative as saying that “it is important for GE to participate in the discussion on how to drive growth and productivity in the U.S.” For this reason, “Jeff Immelt will remain on the Presidential Committee on American Manufacturing while he is the chairman of GE.”

Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc.

Hayes does not appear to have made a public statement at this time.

Brian Krzanich, Intel Corporation

Krzanich resigned Monday evening. His statement reads, in part:

“I have already made clear my abhorrence at the recent hate-spawned violence in Charlottesville, and earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence. I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them. We should honor — not attack — those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does.”

Rich Kyle, The Timken Company

Kyle does not appear to have made a public statement at this time.

Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company

Morrison initially planned to stay on the council but changed gears on Wednesday. Originally, according to CNBC, “Campbell Soup CEO Denise Morrison will remain on the council to ‘have a voice and provide input’ on matters concerning the company, Campbell Soup said in a statement.”

According to Business Insider, Morrison later stated:

“Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville. I believe the President should have been – and still needs to be – unambiguous on that point.”

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that Boeing’s (a DiversityInc Noteworthy Company) Muilenburg plans to stay on the committee but did not provide any additional statement or information.

Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Paul left the council on Tuesday afternoon. In a simple tweet Paul said, “I’m resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it’s the right thing for me to do.”

Kevin Plank, Under Armour

The athletic company’s CEO was the second to announce he would be leaving the council.

(Notably, Plank came under intense criticism from Under Armour athletes and many others for his apparent praise of Trump in February — just around the time of the height of the controversy surrounding Trump’s Muslim ban.)

Michael Polk, Newell Brands

Polk will remain on the council. According to Business Insider, he said in a statement, in part, “With a large portion of our business in the U.S., including a manufacturing footprint of more than 60 factories and 15,000 employees (and counting), it is in our best interests to have a voice in the conversations that can influence the environment in which we work.”

Mark Sutton, International Paper 

Sutton will remain on the council. According to CNBC, a spokesperson said Sutton is staying to “work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of communities across the country by creating employment opportunities in manufacturing,”

Inge Thulin, 3M

Inge Thulin left the manufacturing council on Wednesday. His statement reads, in part, “I joined the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative in January to advocate for policies that align with our values and encourage even stronger investment and job growth – in order to make the United States stronger, healthier and more prosperous for all people. After careful consideration, I believe the initiative is no longer an effective vehicle for 3M to advance these goals. As a result, today I am resigning from the Manufacturing Advisory Council.”

Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO

Trumka exited the council on Tuesday. In a tweet along with his statement he said, “I cannot sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism; I resign, effective immediately.”

Wendell Weeks, Corning

Weeks does not appear to have made a public statement at this time.

Mark Fields, formerly of Ford Motor Company; Klaus Kleinfeld, formerly of Arconic; and Mario Longhi, formerly of US Steel, have all exited their companies since January and did not retain their seats on the council, according to Business Insider.

Thea Lee, formerly with AFL-CIO, had remained on the council following her departure but stepped down this week.

Doug Oberhelman retired from Caterpillar at the beginning of this year. Reports from Recode and the New York Times appear to indicate he did not leave the council at that time.

Elon Musk of Tesla stepped down from the council following Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

Strategic and Policy Forum
According to a release from December, “The Forum, which is composed of some of America’s most highly respected and successful business leaders, will be called upon to meet with the President frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the President implements his economic agenda.”

Bob Igor, CEO of the Walt Disney Company (No. 36), and Tesla’s CEO Musk both stepped away from the council in response to Trump’s departure from the Paris climate accord. Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick also left the council, with his exit following Trump’s Muslim ban.

Walmart (a DiversityInc 2017 Noteworthy Company) CEO Doug McMillon also sits on the council. He released a statement posted to Walmart’s website strongly criticizing Trump’s response to Charlottesville.

“As we watched the events and the response from President Trump over the weekend, we too felt that he missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists,” McMillon said in part. “His remarks today were a step in the right direction and we need that clarity and consistency in the future.”

He added that today’s climate “require[s] our elected officials, business leaders and community-based organizations to work together.”

Trump responded to McMillon’s statement in a press conference:
“The country is booming, the stock market is setting record, we have the highest employment numbers we’ve ever had in the history of our country. We are doing record business. We have the highest levels of enthusiasm, so the head of Walmart, who I know, who’s a very nice guy, was making a political statement. I mean, I would do it the same way, you know why? Because I want to make sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct. And there was no way – no way – of making a correct statement that early. I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.”

Notably, though, McMillon has publicly opposed Trump’s policies before and has still remained on the council. Earlier this year Walmart joined Americans for Affordable Products, a coalition of dozens of companies opposed to Trump’s Border Adjustment Tax (BAT).

Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone and chair of the Forum, came to Trump’s defense regarding Trump’s “many sides” comment.

“I thought he was talking about the violence on both sides,” Schwarzman said, according to Bloomberg. “I don’t think it was a far-reaching statement.”

He changed his tune on Monday, Bloomberg reported.

“Bigotry, hatred and extremism are an affront to core American values and have no place in this country,” Schwarzman said in an emailed statement, according to the publication. “Encouraging tolerance and understanding must be a core national imperative and I will work to further that goal.”

No one else on the council appears to have made a public comment yet. The remaining members include:

Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors

Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock

Rich Lesser, President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group

Jim McNerney, former Chairman, President and CEO, Boeing

Paul Atkins, Patomak Global Partners

Kevin Warsh, Scholar, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution

Toby Cosgrove, President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic

Jamie Dimon, Chairman, President and CEO, JPMorgan Chase

Dan Yergin, Vice Chairman, IHS Markit

Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO, General Electric

Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY (No. 1)

Adebayo Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners

Virginia Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO, IBM

Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

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12 comments


  • I suspect many CEOs will choose to stay on the business advisory councils because having a seat at the table is a stronger strategic position to advocate change for various policies. At what point will DiversityInc label the CEOs that remain on the business councils as racist?

    • I don’t think staying on the council means you’re a racist, but it doesn’t engender any loyalty or affection with employees, customers, suppliers or investors either (unless they’re Nazi sympathizers).

      I also don’t think a “seat at the table” has any value with Trump. He’s an amoral opportunistic narcissist. He uses people until he has a churlish moment, then he takes a cosmic poop on them. Why would anyone want a seat at that table.

      I’m sure a number of them will stay on out of fear of retribution. Others believe as the president does. You won’t be able to see the difference, so it’s a wise choice to leave regardless of how you feel. There’s no real upside.

  • There are a lot of CEOs from big-named companies here. Unless these CEOs feel they can make changes from the inside – like getting trump out of the WH – then that’s the only reason why I would agree with them continuing to participate in these councils. Otherwise, we boycott the companies these CEOs represent.

  • I stand with the Military Chief’s and Michael Moore. I believe that the names of the CEO’s that remain on the council should be published on the front page of every newspaper, and electronic media. A boycott of historic size, with the 64% of American’s that don’t support racism, will hit those companies in the pockets and drive the stocks down. Nothing speaks louder than groups of investors losing money hand over fist!

  • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    And Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, echoes the Big Lie of “violence on both sides”; I am disgusted, but not surprised.

  • I believe the CEOs that remain feel they have a duty to Country to make sure that the ‘idea’ of why they are there rings true for Americans. But now is the time for them to tell America what does this view of ‘duty of Country’ mean to them?

    Does it mean they feel they can do more sitting on a council that promotes more PR for Trump, or does it mean to leave and take a more real, hands on, proactive stand within their own companies to create job growth and equal-opportunities with other Small and large Business CEOs in their communities, States, and Nation? Americans question what does it take for that CEO to just focus on their multi-billion dollar industry they head and just do what needs to be done, period. What’s the big deal about sitting with Trump that will make positive change and growth of income for Americans seeking employment?!?! They are CEOs, they can do that in a finger snap, they really don’t need to sit on any committee with anyone in Washington, just do and offer what is needed. No, they are sitting there because they are part of Trump’s PR, catering to his massive ego so he can take credit for what they do. They’re fools to stay if that is the case.

    And then there is the “lie” these folks are taking by saying and pushing the idea of having “a seat at the table”. Ask yourselves: What Table? These are CEO’s they can create their own tables, they don’t need big government to give them one – -unless big government/Trump is “giving these CEOs one” and their workers and people be darned. What are their people getting while they are sitting at the table, crumbs? Leftovers? Come on. The only “seat at the table” I see for these CEOs who stay and the like of all other Trump committees, is the same seat at the table I remember from the book “Animal Farm” — the one where it says that looking from man to animal and not knowing the difference anymore.

  • David Andersen

    I’m not sure where to go with weather the Ceos should stay on the council or not. I know nothing about how their voices are heard, or what type of influence they have as members…as I suspect is the case with most everyone else here. I know there are boards that I am on that I would never leave, because I want to be there to defend my company, and be part of decisions that could otherwise be swayed if I was not there. Regardless of their decision, I am proud of the companies that have been responsible enough to stand up and denounce the evil neo Nazi/white supremacy groups and call them out for what they are. Mandi Pinni brought up a good point on how these businesses can start with focusing on their own companies. I work for one of Diversity Inc’s top 10 companies for diversity, and I can tell you that human rights, equality, and acceptance of others is a conversation DAILY…not just when there are events like this. That to me is the only way we can really make a difference.

  • I thought that elements in US Black Society hates “capitalism” and even wrote books against. I thought those same elements write and tell stories about how pharmaceuticals lace their drugs with Aids and other sterilizing tidbits to curtail black populations like the Tuskegee Experiment and spraying radioactive bacterial in the Hood side of St Louis. How about the efforts of Wal-Mart attempting to bribe it’s way into African Countries thus by putting locals out of business. What about Obama’s support of Ukrainian neo-Nazis. Yeah memory becomes quite short when it has to do with bashing President Trump. These subversive activities will get exposed and done so soon.

    • What are you babbling about? There were the Tuskegee experiments weren’t there? And doctors did take cancer tissue from Henrietta Lacks and distribute it for decades for experimentation without compensation to her family didn’t they? They did it because she was poor and black and who cared, anyhow. What’s she gonna do about it?

      Did the military really conduct airborne chemical experiments in the NYC subway system? Ahhh? Is the government hiding aliens in Area 51? Well, did they? Are they?

      And drugs were pumped into black neighborhoods, which was their moral failings and no one cared, but now drugs are a big social issue that we *must* do something about because white people are addicted to oxy! Its not their fault! Big pharma did it! Its the doctors’ fault for treating their bad backs!

      Meanwhile, Obama is a secret Muslim born in Kenya. Hillary murdered people with her bare hands, ninja style, and is running a secret pedophile ring in pizza joint basements nationwide. Michelle Obama is really a man! Its all true! Trump said so. A Ukrainian fake website said so! Its on Facebook. It must be true!

      Hillary committed thousands of unnamed crimes. We know this for an alternative fact. Lock her up! The earth is 6,000 years old, flat and the moon is made of cheese. The moonlanding was fake! Y2K is coming, all the computers will stop, and we’re all gonna die! The killer bees will be here any minute. Although, its taken 30 years! Elvis lives! Bigfoot is real! Ghosts haunt houses! Dinosaurs lived with people and they rode them as pets, Fred Flintstone style. Trump is going to drain the swamp, bring back coal, make America white again, and stop manufacturing his crap overseas!

      The earth was created in 6 days – literally. A man came back from the dead, turned water into wine, and walked on water. Millions believe it. That’s proof its true! The devil is real! Infowars, Ann Coulter, Kellyann Conway, Fox News, Breitbart, and Hannity et al speak the truth!

      It’s in my Twitter feed, so it’s gotta be true.

      There was a second shooter. And aliens abduct white people all the time. Somehow, never seeming to abduct any black people. Hmmm???

      I smell a conspiracy…Stay tuned.

  • Didn’t trump, in his usual impulsive fit of petulance, shut his councils down???

    So there.

    If you won’t play in the baby-in-chief’s sandbox, then he’s kicking sand in everyone’s faces. To hell with the American worker.

    Look we made in through 6 months. We can do this people only 1,839,600 minutes to go!

    Next new low: shots ring out in the middle of Fifth Avenue. Witnesses say they saw a huge lumbering figure make a not-so-fast getaway on a golfcart.

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