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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) CEO to Stay on Trump's Council to Go to Bat for Health Care

8/16/2017 5:15:57 AM

Johnson & Johnson CEO to Stay on Trump's Council to Go to Bat for Health Care August 16, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

NEW YORK – Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky is not following the lead of six of his peers, including Merck (MRK) CEO Kenneth Frazier, who resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Council following widespread criticism of President Donald Trump’s response to racial unrest in Virginia.

On Tuesday, Gorsky announced his intention to remain on the council so he could use his influence to shape national policy and benefit manufacturing interests, Stat News reported. In a statement, Gorsky said he was deeply saddened by the racial unrest and violence that took place in Charlottesville, Va. over the past weekend – violence that left one woman dead and 19 injured after an automobile allegedly driven by a man with neo-Nazi beliefs plowed into a crowd of counter-protestors. Such violence has no place in society, Gorsky said. He noted that many of his colleagues, including Frazier, resigned from their roles on the council as a matter of personal conscience. He however said he was not stepping down. He said Johnson & Johnson has a “responsibility to remain engaged” with the council. He said that engagement is not to support a specific political agenda, but as a “way to represent the values of Our Credo as crucial public policy is discussed and developed.”

Gorsky said that Johnson & Johnson has an important voice in healthcare, one that leaders at every level of government across the globe need to hear.

“If we aren’t in the room advocating for global health as a top priority, if we aren’t there standing up for our belief in diversity and inclusion, or if we fail to speak out when the situation demands, then we have abdicated our Credo responsibility. We must engage if we hope to change the world and those who lead it,” Gorsky said in his statement.

Since Frazier first announced his intention to depart the manufacturing council on Monday five other top CEOs have joined him. Frazier, one of the most high profile African American business leaders in the United States, said his decision to step down was “a matter of personal consequence.”

Since Frazier’s and the other CEO’s announced their departures, Trump has ripped their decisions on Twitter. He also suggested there are many “more deserving” business leaders who would want to be on the council. “Grandstanders should not have gone on,” he said on Twitter.
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While Gorsky is remaining on the council some are criticizing his decision. Arundhati Parmar, the editor of MedCity News, excoriated Gorsky’s decision, saying in an open letter that Gorsky will be known by the company he keeps.

“As a leader of an American company whose brand influence extends far beyond this nation’s borders, I am wondering how you arrived at the decision to remain on Donald Trump’s American Manufacturing Council… The statement that the company you lead put out in your name appears to be naive and not particularly well-reasoned,” Parmar said.

Parmar said it would be easier to change the laws of nature than for Gorsky to use his powers as CEO to change Donald Trump. Parmar said that no matter how powerful a voice Gorsky may have it “will be drowned out by the only voice that seems to matter to our president: his own (and perhaps those who appear on bended knee).”

Additionally Parmar pointed to a company bio of Gorsky that said he believed in diversity and equality, something that was decried in Charlottesville. Parmar said Gorsky needs to provide additional information as to what he believes the manufacturing council can actually achieve in order to justify his remaining on that board.

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