Despite the fact that his cloud company works with the federal government, Box co-founder, Chairman and CEO Aaron Levie could not keep mum about President Donald Trump’s controversial reaction to the violence at a Charlottesville, Virginia protest.
“In this case, I think the principles override that,” Levie told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer on Thursday, referring to his company’s government contracts. “We really need to ensure that our country can be much more unified, that we actually collectively appreciate our culture of diversity, and we need a president that can stand up for that and stand up for what’s right. So in this case, I think that you’ve seen that from other CEOs in the country and CEOs of companies much larger than Box.”
Levie took to Twitter over the past several days to congratulate Merck CEO Ken Frazier for being the first to resign from Trump’s manufacturing council over the statements, express his dismay about the disbanding of the councils and speak out against the groups altogether.
Calling Trump’s statements about the fatal violence at the protest “troubling,” Levie told Cramer that he was unnerved by them and how they were reflecting on the whole administration.
“I think that the business community has reacted in concert with that and recognized that it was a complete travesty of what happened this weekend, and the kind of tone and the rhetoric that’s coming out of the administration is quite horrible to see,” the CEO said. “I think we really, really need some strong answers and some new responses from this administration if this current administration is going to work out.”
Levie said that these statements could represent the “true stripes” of Trump’s administration and presidency, and would put even more pressure on an already at-odds Cabinet full of contrasting ideas.
“It’s not a coherent or cohesive Cabinet, it’s got a lot of organizational dysfunction, it represents, in some cases, disastrous views of where this country should be going, and so I think it’s very hard to navigate that situation. It’s hard for business leaders to navigate that situation,” Levie said. “You can’t be in the situation where you’re supporting or endorsing certain policy decisions that might be economically attractive while at the same time dealing with all of the social ramifications and the cultural ramifications that Trump is driving.”
And when it comes to moving forward from this hotbed issue, Levie was at a loss, classifying the situation as a symptom of a particularly divisive presidency.
“I think he’s put himself into a bind by unfortunately showing, potentially, what he truly is about. And this was the risk of this presidency. And I’m not sure what the path forward is,” the CEO said. “So it’s very troubling to see, but I’m at least proud to see so many business leaders stand up for what’s right and for the principles that we think are so important to America and building great organizations.”