Some of the top CEOs in America have met with Donald Trump - as the business community still decides how to respond to his controversial travel ban.
Many leaders were caught in the awkward position of trying to appease an increasingly politically active customer base, and at the same time attempting to maintain good relations with President Trump.
Amongst those who attended the meeting were, JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon, Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi as well as leaders from General Electric (GE) and Boeing. The CEOs are part of Mr Trump’s 15-member council of business leaders.
Others such as Uber CEO Travis Kalanick quit the group on Thursday under pressure from activists and his own employees, for his willingness to advise the president.
The council is “designed to provide direct input to the president from many of the best and brightest in the business world in a frank, non-bureaucratic, and nonpartisan manner”, according to a statement which announced the group’s formation. There were no immediate details about what was said - or not said - at the meeting.
Executives from Ford Motors as well as Elon Musk of Tesla, said they planned on using the meeting to bring up objections to Mr Trump’s executive order from last week, “and offer suggestions for changes to the policy,” said Mr Musk in a statement.
The CEO of the Cleveland Clinic, Toby Cosgrove, also promised to speak against the travel ban after a Sudanese citizen who is a first-year resident in one of his hospitals was blocked from returning to the US and is currently stuck in Sudan.
“He has an opportunity to talk directly to the president, and that is a good opportunity,” a spokeswoman for Mr Cosgrove told the AP .
The pressure to be against Mr Trump is particularly strong in the left-leaning world of the technology industry.
According to a study by the National Foundation for American Policy, little more than half of the start-ups in the US that are estimated to be worth more than $1bn, were founded by immigrants.
Additionally the Washington Post reported that more than 115 Silicon Valley start-up founders have asked the Trump administration to end the immigration ban. Some tech companies are even thinking about moving jobs out of the US to places like Vancouver and Dublin, which have more relaxed immigration policies and sometimes lower taxes as well.
On the other hand, the Trump team itself is pulling out all the stops to reward and woo companies for cooperating with the administration. Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka, invited several business leaders over to her new house in Washington for a dinner party on Thursday night. Attendees included the CEOs of Walmart, GE, Ernst & Young, Johnson & Johnson and JPMorgan.
Politico (hyperlink) reported that the stated purpose of the dinner was to gather ideas on how to promote women in the workforce and fight for issues like paid maternity leave, issues that Ms supported throughout her father’s campaign.
While the dinner was occurring, Nordstrom announced last night that it would stop selling Trump’s name-branded line of clothing and shoes after a boycott of her products by an anti-Trump activist group called “Grab Your Wallet.”
The “Grab Your Wallet” campaign has targeted more than 60 companies, including all of Trump’s golf courses, hotels and those that sell Trump-branded goods, the Washington Post reported (hyperlink). The campaign has also targeted business leaders who endorsed Trump or have donated to his campaign in the past.
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