General Motors' (GM) Mary Barra, Walmart's (WMT) Doug McMillon and several other CEO advisers to President Donald Trump were silent on Monday over his lukewarm response to racist violence over the weekend while three other executives stepped down from a presidential advisory council. And those who spoke out largely did so only after the president delivered more forceful and specific remarks.
Merck (MRK) CEO Kenneth Frazier quit Trump's manufacturing council early Monday in the wake of the president's response to weekend protests by white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va. Monday evening, Under Armour (UA) CEO Kevin Plank and Intel (INTC) CEO Brian Krzanich announced they are leaving the council as well.
Trump on Saturday condemned violence on "many sides," garnering fierce backlash for failing to name the hate groups instigating the events.
On Monday, the president made a more forceful statement from the White House. "Racism is evil," he said. "And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."
But for some, including apparently Frazier and Plank, his remarks were too little, too late.
"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," Frazier, who is African-American, said in a statement. "As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."
"I joined the American Manufacturing Council because I believed it was important for Under Armour to have an active seat at the table and represent our industry," Plank said in a statement on Twitter. "We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American manufacturing. However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics."
"I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America's manufacturing base," Krzanich said.
Trump quickly hit back at Frazier on Twitter.
Among their peers who also sit on CEO advisory councils for Trump, Frazier, Plank and Krzanich were the first and among the only to speak out. Many other executives who sit on Trump's manufacturing council and strategic and advisory forum kept quiet -- or waited until after his Monday address to weigh in.
A spokeswoman for General Electric (GE) , whose chairman, Jeff Immelt, sits on the manufacturing council, said in a statement emailed to TheStreet that the company has "no tolerance for hate, bigotry or racism" and condemns "violent extremism" in Charlotte. She confirmed Immelt would stay on the Trump advisory council.
"With more than 100,000 employees in the United States, it is important for GE to participate in the discussion on how to drive growth and productivity in the U.S., therefore, Jeff Immelt will remain on the Presidential Committee on American Manufacturing while he is the Chairman of GE," she said.
Dow Chemical (DOW) CEO Andrew Liveris, who heads the manufacturing council, said in a statement he condemns the violence in Charlottesville and sent his "thoughts and prayers" to those who lost loved ones and the people of Virginia. "In Dow there is no room for hatred, racism, or bigotry. Dow will continue to work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of the communities where it operates - including supporting policies that help create employment opportunities in manufacturing and rebuild the American workforce," he said.
Blackstone Group's Stephen Schwarzman, who heads the strategic and advisory forum, said in a statement released about an hour after the president spoke on Monday that "bigotry, hatred and extremism are an affront to core American values" and have no place in the country. He also cited Trump's delayed remarks. "As the President said today, I believe we need to find a path forward to heal the wounds left by this tragedy and address its underlying causes. Encouraging tolerance and understanding must be a core national imperative and I will work to further that goal," he said.
EY CEO Mark Weinberger said in a statement that he is "deeply saddened and disturbed by the tragic, deplorable acts that took place in Charlottesville," and reaffirmed the company's commitment to inclusivity. "Now is the time for business leaders and government to unite to ensure we become stronger through our differences," he said.
JPMorgan Chase JPM CEO Jamie Dimon addressed employees in a statement condemning "the racist behavior on display" over the weekend. Dimon, who is chairmain of the Business Roundtable, also released a joint statement with the lobbying group's CEO, Joshua Bolten. "The business community will build on our strong record of leadership to stand against racism to promote equality and acceptance," they said.
Campbell Soup Company (CPB) , Whirlpool (WHR) , Nucor (NUE) and International Paper released statements during the afternoon condemning hate groups in Charlottesville. They also confirmed that their CEOs would remain on Trump's manufacturing advisory council.
All of the statements landed after Trump's Monday remarks.
Dell Technologies spokeswoman Lauren Lee confirmed Michael Dell, who sits on the manufacturing council, will not change his relationship with Trump. "While we would not 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, our customers and our employees," she said in an email.
Attempts by TheStreet to contact the CEOs and companies they helm regarding their reactions to the weekend events in Charlottesville, which left three people dead, were generally met without responses or without comment, including inquiries to firms such as Harris Corporation (HRS) , PepsiCo (PEP) , IBM (IBM) , and 3M (MMM) .
A spokesman for IHS Markit (INFO) said its vice chairman, Daniel Yergin, who sits on the strategic and policy forum is on vacation and therefore unable to comment.
An assistant to retired CEO Jack Welch said Welch was unavailable to comment for the day in an email. "He is playing in a charity golf event all day. Then he has a commitment immediately following. He did not bring his cell phone with him. I will not see him until he returns this evening. I will mention that you asked," she said.
A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) said she would look into comments but as of the time of publication did not have anything prepared. A spokeswoman for Ford (F) noted that now-retired CEO Mark Fields, who sat on the manufacturing council, is no longer with the company. The automaker has not sent a replacement representative to the council.
Frazier, Plank and Krzanich are not the first executives to exit one of Trump's advisory councils over some of his more controversial deeds. Tesla's (TSLA) Elon Musk and Disney's (DIS) Bob Iger resigned from their advisory spots when Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
- Updated with statements from Blackstone's Schwarzman, Campbell Soup, Whirlpool, Nucor's Ferriola, International Paper, Dimon and EY and Plank and Krzanich resignations.