While some of Donald Trump's picks for top advisors in his fledgling administration have raised eyebrows, the new panel of business leaders assembled by the president-elect is flush with experience and influence—thanks to the inclusion of some of the biggest-name executives in the Fortune 500.
Trump plans to call on members of his so-called Strategic and Policy Forum "to share their specific experience and knowledge" as he tries to keep jobs in the United States and bring back some that have already moved abroad, according to a statement posted to the website of Blackstone, a private equity firm. It continued:
Members of the forum will be charged with providing their individual views to the president–informed by their unique vantage points in the private sector–on how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation, and productivity. The forum is designed to provide direct input to the president from many of the best and brightest in the business world in a frank, non-bureaucratic, and non-partisan manner.
Blackstone chair, CEO, and co-founder Stephen Schwarzman, a billionaire Republican donor, will chair the forum and was reportedly responsible for selecting the rest of the team. Schwarzman told CNBC that he chose the leaders for the forum and Trump "loved them all."
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Here is the full list of forum members:
- Stephen A. Schwarzman—Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone;
- Paul Atkins—CEO, Patomak Global Partners, LLC, Former Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission;
- Mary Barra—Chairman and CEO, General Motors;
- Toby Cosgrove–CEO, Cleveland Clinic;
- Jamie Dimon—Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co;
- Larry Fink—Chairman and CEO, BlackRock;
- Bob Iger—Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company;
- Rich Lesser—President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group;
- Doug McMillon—President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.;
- Jim McNerney—Former Chairman, President, and CEO, Boeing;
- Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi—Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners;
- Ginni Rometty—Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM;
- Kevin Warsh—Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institute, Former Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System;
- Mark Weinberger—Global Chairman and CEO, EY;
- Jack Welch—Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric;
- Daniel Yergin—Pulitzer Prize-winner, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit
Schwarzman said that partisanship was not a factor in compiling the group. "[Trump] said 'I don't care about that. I don't care about anything but talent and wisdom and judgment,'" Schwarzman said. Indeed, the list includes some Democratic heavyweights, including Iger, a Democratic donor who supported Hillary Clinton, and Fink, who was once considered a contender for Treasury secretary, should Clinton have won the election.
Schwarzman himself has not disclosed whom he voted for on November 8. The private equity pioneer, who helped bankroll Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2012, said he was still undecided in late September.
If party allegiance was disregarded in assembling the forum, perhaps gender diversity was too.
That's not to discount the qualifications of Barra and Rometty.
Barra, who's crediting with steering GM through its ignition switch scandal, said told the Detroit News that she is looking forward to working with Trump and his team "on policies that support a strong and competitive economy and automotive industry." A top priority for Barra will likely be weighing in on the tariffs Trump has vowed impose on good coming into the U.S. from Mexico. GM has extensive operations in Mexico, and on the campaign trail, Trump blasted rival Ford for moving jobs to the U.S.'s southern neighbor. (Ford has said it plans to cut no jobs in the U.S. but is moving a small production plant to Mexico.) In October, Barra's name appeared in leaked Clinton campaign emails that seemed to indicate the Democratic nominee had considered her as a potential pick for vice president.
Rometty's membership in the forum follows an open letter she sent to Trump about creating "new collar" jobs. Her sunny message to Trump irked at least one employee. A senior content strategist wrote her own open letter to Rometty and announced she was resigning.
Rometty's appointment to the panel also comes after Trump used a campaign speech last month to criticize IBM for laying off workers in Minneapolis and for offshoring other jobs. IBM has cut thousands of jobs overall over the past few years, in what it has called a realignment around new opportunities. But with nearly 380,000 employees worldwide, it remains the largest tech company in the U.S.
IBM declined to comment on Rometty's role in the forum.
Women's representation on Trump's new panel is woeful, but it reflects the struggle of women to gain full parity in the corporate world. Study after study indicates a gender gap in management positions, and this year, the percentage of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 dropped to a dismal 4%. A Fortune investigation in September revealed that the dearth of female chief executives is due—in part—to women's increased odds of being offered the top position at companies that are struggling or in crisis and the scarcity of second chances for women who exit the C-suite.