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IBM CEO: This Is Why Trump’s Advisory Forum Disbanded

On Wednesday, President Trump announced that he was “ending” two of his business advisory councils: a manufacturing initiative and a strategy forum.

The tweet with the news came after the latter reportedly decided to disband on its own, a chain of events confirmed by a letter IBM CEO Ginni Rometty sent her employees the same day.

The group “can no longer serve the purpose for which it was formed,” the executive wrote. “Earlier today I spoke with other members of the Forum and we agreed to disband the group.”

Members of the group, which was led by Blackstone CEO (BX) Stephen Schwarzman, included other chiefs of major U.S. corporations, among them PepsiCo’s (PEP) Indra Nooyi and BlackRock’s (BHK) Larry Fink.

The decision came the day after Trump reaffirmed early remarks that a white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Va. over the weekend was the fault of “both sides” and three days after he initially refrained from denouncing neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups by name.

In her memo, Rometty characterized the rally as “despicable conduct” by “hate groups.”

Below, her full letter to IBM’s 380,000 employees:


By now, you’ve seen the news that we have disbanded the President’s Strategy and Policy Forum. In the past week, we have seen and heard of public events and statements that run counter to our values as a country and a company. IBM has long said, and more importantly, demonstrated its commitment to a workplace and a society that is open, inclusive and provides opportunity to all. IBM’s commitment to these values remains robust, active and unwavering.

The despicable conduct of hate groups in Charlottesville last weekend, and the violence and death that resulted from it, shows yet again that our nation needs to focus on unity, inclusion, and tolerance. For more than a century and in more than 170 countries, IBM has been committed to these values.

Engagement is part of our history, too. We have worked with every U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson. We are determinedly non-partisan – we maintain no political action committee. And we have always believed that dialogue is critical to progress; that is why I joined the President’s Forum earlier this year.

But this group can no longer serve the purpose for which it was formed. Earlier today I spoke with other members of the Forum and we agreed to disband the group. IBM will continue to work with all parts of the government for policies that support job growth, vocational education and global trade, as well as fair and informed policies on immigration and taxation.