It is unknown how Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon voted, but enough high-profile corporate titans on President Donald Trump’s Strategic & Policy group voted to disband the group in the wake of Trump’s comments following the Charlottesville, Va., tragedy. Shortly after, President Trump disbanded the strategy group and his manufacturing council.
“Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all!” Trump noted in a tweet.
McMillon on Tuesday said he would remain on the council, noting it was important that the Bentonville-based retailer “stay engaged to try to influence decisions in a positive way and help bring people together.” McMillon was critical of Trump’s post-Charlottesville comments, saying the President “missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together by unequivocally rejecting the appalling actions of white supremacists.”
The strategy council held a conference call Wednesday morning with council members. According to several published reports, the council’s consensus was to disband. In addition to McMillon, members of the council include Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of General Motors, Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, and Jim McNerney, former head of Boeing.
A statement from the council noted, “Intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values. We believe the debate over forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans. As such, the president and we are disbanding the forum.”
Wal-Mart did not respond to numerous attempts Wednesday by Talk Business & Politics to seek comment about McMillon’s stance.
Prior to Trump’s Wednesday tweet that ended the two councils, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced his resignation from the manufacturing council.
“Earlier today, I tendered my resignation from the American Manufacturing Council. 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.”
Nine members of the manufacturing council resigned before it was ended by Trump.
However, several CEOs of companies with operations in Arkansas decided to remain on the manufacturing initiative. Mark Sutton, CEO of Memphis-based International Paper, said the council could help the nation by creating more job opportunities.
“International Paper strongly condemns the violence that took place in Charlottesville over the weekend – there is no place for hatred, bigotry and racism in our society. We are a company that fosters an inclusive workforce where all employees are valued and treated with dignity and respect. Through our participation on the Manufacturing Jobs Council, we will work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of communities across the country by creating employment opportunities in manufacturing,” the company noted in a statement prior to the council being disbanded.
Marillyn Hewson, chairman, president and CEO of Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp., said she would stay on the manufacturing council because it would be “the best way to represent our company and our employees.”
John Ferriola, CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based Nucor, also condemned the violence but said he would stay on the manufacturing council.
“At Nucor, we condemn the violence that occurred this past weekend in Charlottesville and reject the hate, bigotry, and racism expressed at the demonstration. As North America’s largest steel producer, Nucor has engaged with several administrations to work on policies that help strengthen the U.S. manufacturing sector and provide opportunities for American workers. We believe a strong manufacturing sector is the backbone of a strong economy, and we will continue to serve as a member of the White House Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.”