Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent Opposes Trump’s ‘Travel Ban’

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said he doesn't support President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration and is working to help employees who may be affected.
Credit Courtesy of Coca-Cola
Audio version of this story here.

Coca-Cola is the first Fortune 500 Atlanta company to come out against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

Tech companies like Google and Microsoft responded loudly against the executive order this weekend.

But many of Atlanta’s largest publicly-traded companies aren’t talking about it.

Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said he doesn’t support President Trump’s executive order and is working to help employees who may be affected.

“The Coca-Cola Company is resolute in its commitment to diversity, fairness and inclusion, and we do not support this travel ban or any policy that is contrary to our core values and beliefs,” Kent said. “As a U.S. company that has operations in more than 200 countries and territories, we respect people from all backgrounds and greatly value the diversity of our global system’s more than 700,000 associates. We are continuing to assess any potential impact to our employees, and will provide them with appropriate support as needed.”

While Kent has spoken out about the executive order, other Atlanta business are more reserved.

Atlanta-based UPS said it “supports policies that enable the legal movement of people across borders, while also understanding the need to protect national security.”

“We are reviewing the recent executive order on immigration and any implications for our employees around the world,” UPS spokesman Kyle Peterson said. “With more than 440,000 employees operating in more than 220 countries and territories, we are committed to policies that allow our employees every opportunity to thrive and fully contribute to the company’s success.”

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce said, “due to the ongoing nature of this story and pending legal rulings,” it isn’t commenting on the executive order. 

Clark Atlanta University finance professor Kasim Alli said many businesses are afraid.

“We have a new environment whereby businesses are afraid of what the retaliation could be from the federal government, that’s why they’re hesitant about making comments,” Alli said.  

He said Atlanta businesses seem to be concerned about getting on “the wrong side” of the new administration, and said it’s bad for business when freedom of speech and travel are restricted.

“We live in a global world and if you’re not able to get talent from wherever the talent is, your ability to compete will be limited,” Alli said.

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