The Trump Administration has faced several setbacks in less than a month since Inauguration Day. One of the most shocking has been the executive order signed January 27 that barred “immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States” (Korosec, 2017). The tech industry was quick to react to the news citing the issues they would face in meeting skills shortages.
The problem the immigration ban created brought a group of business leaders to the spotlight: the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum. The business advisory group that is “headed by Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman and includes [Tesla’s Elon] Musk, BlackRock’s Larry Fink, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, J.P. Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, and General Motors’ Mary Barra” is set to provide the President with counsel to “provide feedback on issues that…are important for our country and the world” (Korosec, 2017). Given the criticism facing President Trump, the business leaders are “grappling with concerns over how to engage with the new administration” (Greenwald, 2017).
Controversy over the participation in the advisory group, particularly after the company’s response after the immigration ban, led Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to resign. But others have defended their choice to remain as a way to help create positive changes with Musk noting that “simply [providing] advice and attending does not mean that [he agrees] with actions by the Administration” (Korosec, 2017). Earlier, Musk had reinforced his participation and the benefit it can provide by saying that it is “better that there are open channels of communication” and that “simply attacking him will achieve nothing“ (Lui, 2017).
Greenwald, T. (2017, February 14). IBM Chief Defends Role Advising White House. Wall Street Journal, p. B3.
Korosec, K. (2017, February 2). Elon Musk Says His Role as Trump Advisor ‘Does Not Mean I Agree’ with the President. Retrieved from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2017/02/02/elon-musk-president-trumps-council/
Lui, K. (2017, January 27). Elon Musk Says Simply Attacking President Trump ‘Will Achieve Nothing’. Retrieved from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2017/01/27/elon-musk-donald-trump-rex-tillerson/