Three chief executives from some of America’s top companies have resigned from doing business with President Trump. This comes days after a violent weekend in Charlottesville, Va. More specifically, this is as a result of Trump’s lukewarm response to that violence. Those departing include Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel. Kenneth C. Frazier, the CEO of Merck, and Kevin Plank the founder and chief executive of Under Armour. All three were prat of an advisory panel on manufacturing. Is this a strong message to the President? You decide for yourself. In response to their leaving, Trump tweeted the following: “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES”. Does that sound like the words of a man who gets the message?
Merck made public Frazier’s decision in a statement on Twitter. “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal. As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against extremism”.
Frazier, however, is the only one who too a stand to criticize Trumps response to what happened in Charlottesville. And, while this likely isn’t a surprise, none of the other executives came to Frazier’s defense after Trump attacked him on Twitter. What does this say about big companies? As someone who works in politics, I would say that they are playing the game. They are “towing the party line” so to speak. They are keeping their mouths shut because they know that if they say anything they’re going to end up on Trumps bad side. As with my other posts, I’m likely to insert an “but is that ok?” question in here. But not tonight.
Regardless of who you are, it’s not ok to stand by and let the President act this way. The President of the United States of America. This is supposed to be the greatest country in the world. But it is quickly becoming the laughing stock of the world. And now, it’s being viewed as being run by white supremacists and racists. So no, it’s not ok to “tow the party line” and let Trump get away with this. It’s not ok to sit back and do nothing. Even if Merck doesn’t stand behind Frazier (which they do), this was a brave act. One that many people take for granted. How many of us could say the same, if we were in Frazier’s shoes? I’d like to think that a lot of us could, but it’s not always that black and white. No pun intended.
Standing up for what you believe in is scary. Being true to yourself, regardless of what other people think about you is incredibly daunting. What if you’re suddenly ostracized because of what you’ve said? What if people no longer like you because you’re taking a stand? Thomas R. Cech, a Merck board member was contacted by Frazier Sunday night before he made his statements. Cech had this to say: “Any time someone stands up and does something brave, rather than wimping out, sure there is a risk. You put your name and company’s name in the spotlight and people who don’t like what you did can find ways to try to retaliate”.
I’m not saying that the other CEO’s aren’t brave, but I think they’re certainly scared. They aren’t helping the situation. What’s on the line? Do they think that by staying silent, they will get what they want? Even if they don’t believe in Trump or his politics? I would disagree. It sends the message to Trump that it’s ok to be a bully. It sends the message to Trump that it’s ok to spread hate, and even be racist. And that’s not right. That is completely, and utterly not right. No president should spread hate, nor should they be racist. Especially the latter. The world will not change until there are more people like Frazier. Rather, America will not change until there are more people like Frazier.