Left to right: Kenneth Frazier, CEO, Merck; Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel; Kevin Plank, CEO, Under Armour / REUTERS

Archived: Following Charlottesville, Three CEOs Leave Trump Council

Three CEOs have stepped down from President Donald Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing as a result of the White House’s delayed response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which left one counter-protester dead and consisted of many Trump supporters.


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So far the heads of Merck, Under Armour and Intel have all exited the council. Not all of the CEO’s statements were equal, though.

Kenneth Frazier, CEO of pharmaceuticals giant Merck, was the first to announce his departure on Monday. The company posted Frazier’s statement on Twitter.

Merck was the only person of color on the council, which had 28 members when it was formed back in January. Of those 28 members, only three are women.

Merck’s departure elicited a Twitter fury from Trump.

When the council was created the White House described its members as “some of the world’s most successful and creative business leaders.”

At the time of this story the president has not yet issued any responses to the CEOs of Intel or Under Armour.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made his announcement Monday evening. Prior to that, he seemed to call out the White House on Twitter for not condemning white supremacy:

Although Krzanich did call out white supremacy by name, Twitter users rejected the statement and urged him to take a stronger stand.

Later that day Krzanich declared his resignation. 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.”

Krzanich received mostly positive responses for his decision, with the exception of several Trump supporters who slammed him and posted “#MAGA.”

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank was the second to announce he would be exiting the committee but not before receiving backlash on social media.

On Monday morning Plank posted a message regarding Charlottesville on the company’s Twitter account:

Twitter users were quick to call out Plank’s statement as empty words.

Several hours after the original tweet, Plank tweeted again announcing he would be leaving the council.

Frazier’s statement included the phrase “group supremacy,” and Krzanich’s specifically called out “white supremacy.” Plank’s made no mention of supremacy.

Plank’s announcement was met with praise by some but for quite a few others, his actions were not enough.

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.

“I think [President Trump] is highly passionate. To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country. People can really grab that opportunity,” said 44-year-old Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank in an interview Tuesday on CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report.”

“He loves to build but I don’t think there’s any surprises here. When you look at the president he wants to build things he wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive. I’m a big fan of people that operate in the world of publish and iterate versus think, think, think, think, think. So there’s a lot that I respect there.”

Actor and professional wrestler Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who partnered with Under Armour in 2016 to release “Project Rock,” a motivational lifestyle brand, said Plank’s “words were divisive and lacking in perspective.”

Johnson’s statement regarding Plank at the time, posted on his Instagram, is also applicable to the decisions CEOs are currently faced with regarding how they choose to respond to recent events.

“A good company is not solely defined by its CEO. A good company is not defined by the athlete or celebrity who partners with them. A good company is not a single person. A good company is a team, a group of brothers and sisters committed to working together each and every day to provide for their families and one another and the clients they serve,” he said in part.

Other CEOs on the panel include Alex Gorsky, Michael Dell and Dennis Muilenburg, the chief executives of Johnson & Johnson (No. 5 on the DiversityInc 2017 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list), Dell (No. 26) and Boeing (a DiversityInc Noteworthy Company), respectively.

A spokeswoman for Dell 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.”

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

At this time there has not been a reported public statement from J&J’s Gorsky.

Read more news @ DiversityInc.com

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