Washington Post — By Carolyn Y. Johnson and Jena McGregor August 14, 2017
Photo: Intel’s Brian Krzanich, left, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank, center, and Merck’s Kenneth
Just a month ago, President Trump invited Merck chief executive Kenneth C. Frazier to the White House, calling him one of the “great, great leaders of business in this country.” On Monday morning, Trump singled out Frazier again, this time to express his displeasure over the pharmaceutical executive’s abrupt decision to resign from the president’s American Manufacturing Council.
Frazier, citing a “matter of personal conscience,” said he felt “a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism” in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville and Trump’s failure to quickly and explicitly condemn the white supremacists who organized the rally.
It took Trump just 54 minutes to respond, calling out Frazier among the legions of activists, celebrities and politicians from both parties expressing similar sentiments.
“Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” Trump tweeted.
Frazier, one of a handful of African American chief executives of Fortune 500 companies, is just the latest corporate executive to break with the administration. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Disney chief Robert Iger stepped down from their roles on White House advisory councils following Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, too, said he would no longer participate in a White House economic council, following an uproar in February over Trump’s travel ban.
Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, left, talks to President Trump during a meeting with pharmaceutical industry leaders at the White House on Jan. 31, 2017. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Late Monday, Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, said on Twitter that he, too, was stepping down from the manufacturing council. “I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion,” Plank wrote in a statement.
Hours later, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich also announced in a blog post that he was resigning from the council “to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues.”
Ever since Trump assumed office, executives have struggled to balance their desire to engage the White House on policy with the growing expectations by some that they exercise a voice on social issues — all at the risk of alienating shareholders and customers on one side or another.
Link to article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/merck-ceo-takes-a-stand-and-draws-trumps-ire/2017/08/14/7b4dc13e-810e-11e7-ab27-1a21a8e006ab_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_trumpceo-836pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.7bf2e3e0ffa0