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The Corporate Response to #NoMuslimBan

February 3, 2017 10:38 am

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Last Friday, newly elected American President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order banning all immigrant and non-immigrant entry from Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya for 90 days. The specifics of the travel ban are hard to parse out:What is the fate of  green card holders? What about dual citizens?  However, the Muslim ban’s unpopularity among many Americans were made clear by the thousands of protestors that crowded airports all over the country. More surprisingly, many American companies have also spoken out against the ban. Usually, businesses try to steer clear of politics so they don’t alienate any customers, but for many global corporations silence on this issue is not an option. Here are just a few companies that have come out against the ban.

1.Google

On the day the ban was announced, Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai raised $4 million to help those affected by the ban, their largest crisis campaign ever. Over the weekend, Google co-founder Sergey Brin protested at San Francisco International Airport. Then, on Monday, 2,000 Google employees walked out of the workplace in protest of the policy. On Tuesday, the Google Doodle of the day was in honor of Fred Korematsu, a civil rights activist and internment camp survivor, which many viewed as a jab at the Trump administration. This tech giant hasn’t just posted a statement—they have taken a firm stand and shouted their message with a megaphone.

 

2. Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon

Apple’s Chief Executive, Tim Cook, wrote an email to Apple staff saying, “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.”  He continued, “I’ve heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. I share your concerns. It is not a policy we support.”

Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos also criticized the travel ban, by joining protests and also internally writing an email to his staff saying, “We’re a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years.”

Microsoft followed by going a step further, appealing to the Secretary of State and Homeland Security, issuing a letter requesting a formalized process that would allow “responsible known” travelers with “pressing needs” to travel despite the ban.

These major tech companies in Silicon Valley, plus more like Expedia and Google, are drafting a letter that proposes that the Trump administration reach out to tech companies as a resource to develop “immigration policies that both support the work of American businesses and reflect American values.”

 

3. Goldman Sachs

While most of the financial world has expressed moderate concern over the travel ban, Goldman Sachs CEO and chairman Lloyd Blankfein surprised many by taking a strong stand against the policy. On Sunday, he sent out this voicemail to company employees: “Let me close by quoting from our business principles: ‘For us to be successful, our men and women must reflect the diversity of the communities and cultures in which we operate. That means we must attract, retain and motivate people from many backgrounds and perspectives. Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be.’ Now is a fitting time to reflect on those words and the principles that underlie them.”  However, this message seems to be undercut by the fact that Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon, and Steve Mnuchin (the first two former executives and the latter a partner), are currently high-ranking officials in the Trump administration. Is Goldman Sachs truly sincere in their sentiments, which no others in the financial world has been brave enough to voice so far? Or are they trying to downplay their close ties to the president?

4. Uber

The company’s founder, Travis Kalanick, has received criticism for sitting on Trump’s economic advisory panel. Many of the company’s employees are not happy with the ties to the Trump administration, and protesters have chained themselves to the front doors of the company headquarters. The criticism of the company escalated to a boycott and #DeleteUber trended as the company continued operations at JFK Airport during a taxi strike. As a result, Lyft downloads surpassed Uber downloads on Apple iOS for the first time ever. Uber sent out an email to their employees pledging to provide support for drivers affected by the ban. Kalanick has defended his position on the council by stating that he would bring the issue up this Friday at an economic advisory panel meeting, and that it’s better to have a seat at the table when discussing these policies. However, just today, Kalanick quit the advisory council, stating that he spoke with President Trump about the ban. Many have praised this move, and executive director of Muslim Advocates, Farhana Khera, has gone so far as to say, “Membership on this council is an endorsement of bigotry, period.” This, of course, prompts the question: is that true? If he had stayed on the council, would Kalanick just be supporting a discriminatory policy? Would he have better served those affected by the policy if he had stayed? Should consumers compel the resignation of other advisory council members, which includes chief executives of Wal-Mart, The Walt Disney Company and General Electric? Honestly, consumers have demonstrated that they have the power to and that, despite Republican majority in Congress and his pick of a Supreme Court Justice, President Trump cannot do anything he wants—especially if Americans don’t want it.

 

5.  Starbucks, Nike, and Coca-Cola

The retail industry, like media and telecom companies, have largely remained silent on the issue. The exception is Starbucks, Nike, and Coca-Cola, all of whom have made statements opposing the travel ban. Starbucks went so far as to state that they would hire 10,000 refugees over the course of the next five years. This prompted a backlash and #BoycottStarbucks was trending on Twitter, which proves taking sides on this policy does come with risks for the retail industry, thus making Starbucks, Nike, and Coca-Cola all the more commendable.

 

What do you think of the corporate response to the #MuslimBan?  How sincere are these companies?  Is this good for business?  Send us your comments.

 

By: Zarina Akbary

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1 Comment

  • The fact that so many companies have spoken out against the #NoMuslimBan…is heartwarming. That’s what America is about.

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