Apple CEO Tim Cook has openly campaigned for gay marriage, opposed “religious freedom laws,” and loudly criticized president Donald Trump’s immigration policy proposals, despite a tradition of US corporate leaders keeping political views to themselves. Speaking at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum today (Sept. 20), Cook explained why.
“People should have values,” he said. “Companies are nothing more than a collection of people. So by extension, all companies should have values. As a CEO, I think one of your responsibilities is to decide what the values of your company are, and lead accordingly.”
In conversation with the billionaire philanthropist and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, Cook called the Trump administration’s threat to DACA, the federal program to legalize US residents who illegally immigrated as children, “the biggest issue of our time.”
Apple is “pushing extremely hard” with the Trump administration in favor of the program, he said. “I am personally shocked that there’s even a discussion of this. This is one of those things where it is so clear. This is about basic human dignity and respect. It’s that simple and straightforward.”
Cook also argued that powerful companies have a moral imperative to speak out and set an example.
“As a CEO, not only today but in the past as well, I think silence is the ultimate consent,” he said. “If you see something going on that’s not right, the most powerful form of consent is to say nothing. I think that’s not acceptable to your company, to the team that works so hard for your company, for your customers, or for your country. Or for each country that you happen to be operating in.”