Many retail executives are denouncing the travel and immigration ban on people coming into the country from seven Muslim countries, which President Donald Trump instituted by executive order late Friday. In a letter to employees Sunday, Nike CEO / president Mark Parker condemned the ban as a threat to the company’s values, media outlets reported, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz pledged to hire 10,000 refugees over five years, with an initial focus on those who helped the U.S. military.
Amazon also condemned the policy, though CEO Jeff Bezos has stayed out of the fray. Beth Galetti, VP of human resources, told employees in a Sunday memo that the e-commerce giant is “committed to equal rights, tolerance and diversity — and we always will be,” and advised affected employees to refrain from trying to enter the country while the ban is in place, CNBC reports.
Tech companies, including the CEOs of Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, Facebook, Airbnb and Tesla Motors also slammed the ban, saying it hurts their existing employees and their ongoing need for talent, USA Today reports. Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky offered free housing to affected immigrants, according to a Tweet Saturday.
The chaos that erupted over the weekend on the heels of Trump’s immigration ban elicited an outcry from human rights groups, lawmakers, citizens and business leaders — and retail executives were no exception. Some reactions were widely shared on social media:
Nike CEO Mark Parker sends rare political email to employees tonight, condemning POTUS travel ban. "This is a policy we don't support." pic.twitter.com/I9w48WA7e8— Sara Germano (@germanotes) January 30, 2017
Airbnb is providing free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US. Stayed tuned for more, contact me if urgent need for housing— Brian Chesky (@bchesky) January 29, 2017
Starbucks CEO Schultz was especially vociferous in his condemnation, telling employees, “I am hearing the alarm you all are sounding that the civility and human rights we have all taken for granted for so long are under attack, and want to use a faster, more immediate form of communication to engage with you on matters that concern us all as partners.”
He also took the opportunity to take the president to task for his rhetoric on Mexico, noting that the company has been operating there for 15 years and now runs almost 600 stores in 60 cities across the country, which together employ more than 7,000 Mexicans. He also defended the so-called “Dreamers” program, which protects people brought to the U.S. as children who are culturally American despite their lack of citizenship.
In just a week in office, Trump’s administration has managed to spook retailers with various comments and policies that have introduced uncertainty at best for their business. After the election, NRF CEO and President Matthew Shay congratulated Trump in a press release emailed to Retail Dive, pledging to work with the new president and the Republican-majority Congress on a "pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda.” More recently, Shay described Trump as the first “retail president” since Harry Truman. But the NRF has changed its tune somewhat as Trump has seemed to endorse a Republican-favored border-adjustment tax that could hurt both retail sales and profits.
Under such a policy, retailers would no longer be able to deduct the cost of merchandise they import, hiking taxes three to five times higher for some merchants and driving up the price of imported goods, according to the NRF. Even retailers that don’t import directly could experience higher costs as wholesalers pass on inflated costs, and it would be difficult for retailers to substitute American-made goods because so much of their merchandise is made overseas, the NRF says.
The tax and its effects run “very counter to the way consumers are feeling at the moment,” David French, the NRF's senior vice president for government relations, said last week.