The state of race relations in America today is toxic. Will blacks participate in anything economic that President Donald Trump heads?
President Donald Trump had said there will be “a tremendous positive impact on race relations” from millions of jobs from companies moving back into our country. That was the plan for the President’s American Manufacturing Council to form the basis for the country’s economic development. But Trump’s relationship with the American business community suffered a major setback as he was forced to shut down his major business advisory councils after corporate leaders repudiated his comments on the violence in Charlottesville. Trump has announced disbanding of the Strategy & Policy Forum and the Manufacturing Council, amid a growing uproar by chief executives furious over Trump’s equating actions of white supremacists and protesters.
African-American Ken Frazier of the pharmaceutical Merck led the resignations, followed by Brian Krzanich of Intel, Kevin Plank of Under Armour and Scott Paul of Alliance for American Manufacturing, Richard Trumka and Thea Lee, AFL-CIO, Inge Thulin of 3M and Denise Morrison of Campbell Soup.
After these executives took their leave, Trump disbanded all his business advisory councils. Executives who had planned to staying before the groups were disbanded include Mary Barra of General Motors, Nigerian-born billionaire Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi of Global Infrastructure Partners and Doug McMillon of retailer Wal-Mart.
In a statement posted on Merck’s Twitter page, Frazier announced his resignation: “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. The 63-year-old Frazier also serves as 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 Trump has the business acumen blacks need to lead them to success in business. He started his administration with one of the most heavily business-oriented Cabinets in U.S. history. The president’s councils were designed 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.
Oguniest has the flair and chutzpah Trump admires. “Bayo,” 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. 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 $5.64 billion New York-based private equity firm, which invests in infrastructure assets.
Ogunlesi, from Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria, is 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 U.S. Supreme Court. He was 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 bought 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.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via Busxchng@his.com.