Anyone who thought the divisiveness of the U.S. election results was reserved for the political realm ought to talk to PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi.
Last week, she appeared at a New York Times conference where she congratulated President-elect Donald Trump and urged Americans to “come together.” She then mentioned that she’d found herself responding to employees—particularly those of color, women, and members of the LGBT community—who were concerned about their safety given the election outcome. “I never thought I’d have to answer those questions,” she said.
Now some Trump supporters are accusing Nooyi of “loathing” the soon-to-be commander-in-chief, and they’re demanding a boycott of Pepsi products. Her comments are being taken out of context and interpreted as anti-Trump, reports Fortune‘s John Kell. For instance, Forbes published a story with the headline: “Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi After Trump Election: How Dare You Talk About Women That Way,” and right-leaning blogs are using it as ammunition for a boycott. Nooyi’s comments about women were referring more broadly to coarseness in society—not to Trump in particular—and how it relates to brands’ marketing efforts.
PepsiCo itself isn’t commenting on the boycott, but said Nooyi misspoke only in that she implied that all company employees were upset by the election results. That is not the case.
It’s somewhat ironic that Nooyi began her initial remarks by saying she wanted to give kudos to Trump “because the election is over.” That may be true, but tensions stirred up by the campaign continue to prevail.