Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson says then-Vice President Joe Biden told him in the early 2010s that “You business leaders are all a bunch of cowards because you won’t speak out…and you have no influence.”
Sorenson was speaking at the Skift Global Forum Wednesday after being asked why CEOs were speaking out against the White House instead of avoiding the political risk.
Biden did not immediately respond to Fortune‘s request for comment.
Biden’s alleged comments came after roughly 10 chief executives met with Obama at the White House to discuss the fiscal cliff, Sorenson, who donated to Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential run in 2012, said.
Still, years later in the era of Donald Trump, CEOs are responding. While they traditionally avoid making political statements, since President Donald Trump’s election in November, business titans such as Tesla’s Elon Musk have criticized President Trump for leaving the Paris Agreement, while former Starbucks chief Howard Schultz spoke out about gun control and race relations.
Sorenson has spoken out against Trump’s travel bans, an issue that could potentially hurt the U.S. tourism industry. According to Sorenson, the emotional response to Trump’s presidency, in which the president has urged supporters to stop being politically correct, has also forced Marriott to look at its own brand.
“It’s something we continue to talk about think about,” Sorenson said Wednesday. “When do you speak and when do you not speak?…[The public] wants to know what does the company stand for.”
More recently, a Muslim-American advocacy group pushed Marriott to cancel a controversial national convention organized by ACT for America. ACT has often been described as an anti-Muslim hate group. Marriott however refused to do so.
“The fact that they are having a meeting with us and using our hotel does not mean we support their point of view. If I could wave a magic wand, I’d love to have it so that those types of groups never exist,” he said. But, he said “Do we really want, as a society, for companies like Marriott and o ur peers in the industry and others to sit and make judgements… on people sitting in our meeting rooms?”
Earlier this year after a woman was killed at a Charlottesville counter-protest of white supremacists, GoDaddy, Google, and Cloudflare all kicked neo-Nazi site The Daily Stormer off their services, while Airbnb dropped users that planned to attend the Charlottesville white supremacist rally.