Blacks Resign from Trump’s Business Councils

Author:  William Reed
The state of race relations in America today is toxic. Will blacks participate in anything economic, or not, that President Donald Trump heads? President Donald Trump had said there will be “a tremendous positive impact on race relations” from the millions of jobs that would be coming from the hundreds of companies moving back into our country. The plan was for the President's American Manufacturing Council to form the basis for the country’s economic development. But, alas President Trump’s relationship with the American business community suffered a major setback as he was forced to shut down business advisory councils after corporate leaders repudiated his comments on Charlottesville.

Trump has disbanded the Strategy & Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council — amid growing uproar by chief executives furious over his equating actions of white supremacists and protesters.

African American Ken Frazier of the pharmaceutical giant Merck led the resignations. Frazier’s exit was joined by Brian Krzanich of Intel, Kevin Plank of Under Armour, Scott Paul of Alliance for American Manufacturing, Richard Trumka and Thea Lee of the AFL-CIO, Inge Thulin of 3M and Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup.

After these executives took their leave, Trump disbanded all business/corporate-oriented councils. Executives who had said they are staying before the groups were disbanded included: Mary Barra, General Motors; Nigerian-born billionaire Adebayo "Bayo" Ogunlesi, Global Infrastructure Partners and Doug McMillon of retailer Wal-Mart.

In a statement posted on Merck’s Twitter page, Frazier announced his resignation saying: “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said. “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

A lawyer by trade, Frazier joined Merck in 1992 and became CEO in 2011. Sixty-three--year-old Frazier serves as Merck’s chairman and president. Frazier earns $1.5 million in salary, $3.28 million in stock and $3.8 million worth of options. He also gets $2.5 million in incentive pay, $4.32 million in pension growth and deferred compensation, plus $57,850 in perks. The New York Times, ranked Frazier 66th in a 2015 list of "200 highest-paid CEOs of large publicly traded companies" and seventh in the list of biopharmaceutical executives with the highest total compensation.

While they have an antagonistic relationship, surely President Donald Trump has the business acumen blacks need to lead them to business successes. His administration started with one of the most heavily business-oriented Cabinets in U.S. history. The President’s Councils were to provide forums for buyers and sellers to build relationships and exchange information through various programs at the senior management and merchant level. In Trump’s attempts at business diversity a number of blacks held senior positions.

Adebayo “Bayo” O. Oguniest has the flair and chutzpah Trump admires. “Bayo”, for short, as those close to him call him – is one of the most powerful and successful Africans in business, driving major acquisitions, deals and investments in New York City and around the world. Bayo is a Nigerian-born lawyer and investment banker that was on Mr. Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. The 59 – year-old industrialist is chairman and managing partner of Global Infrastructure Partners, a $5.64billion New York-based private equity firm, which invests in infrastructure assets.

Maybe due to cultural differences, Bayo’s approach to the problem was differed from Frazier’s. Oguniest is from Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria; the son of Nigeria’s first professor of medicine. From 1980 to 1981, Ogunlesi served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court, as the first non-American to clerk at the nation's highest court. In July 2006, Ogunlesi started the private equity firm, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP)., a joint venture whose initial investors included Credit Suisse and General Electric. He currently serves as GIP Chairman and Managing Partner. In 2006, GIP bough London City Airport. In 2009, GIP acquired the majority share in London Gatwick Airport in a deal worth £1.455 billion ($2.39 billion). GIP also owns Edinburgh Airport.