- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2016

PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi said many of her non-white employees are “in mourning” and afraid for their safety after Donald Trump’s presidential win last week.

Mrs. Nooyi, a Hillary Clinton supporter, was speaking at the New York Times Dealbook conference last week when journalist Andrew Sorkin asked her how she felt about the election results.

“Do you have a box of tissues here?” she said, laughing. “First of all, I want to congratulate President-elect Donald Trump, because the election is over. I think we should mourn, for those of us who supported the other side. But we have to come together and life has to go on.”

Mrs. Nooyi said she spent the day after Election Day answering questions and consoling her daughters and employees.

“They were all in mourning,” she said. “Our employees are all crying. And the question that they’re asking, especially those who are not white: ‘Are we safe?’ Women are asking: ‘Are we safe?’ LGBT people are asking: ‘Are we safe?’ I never thought I’d have had to answer those questions.”

“So I think that the first thing that we all have to do is to assure everybody in the United States that they are safe,” she continued. “Nothing has changed because of this election. What we heard was election talk. And we will all come together and unify the country. So the process of democracy happened. We just have to let life go on.”

Mrs. Nooyi lamented that Americans, specifically the U.S. media, “let the politics trump the issues, pardon the pun.”

“The real issues that face us as a country were never talked about,” she said. “If the real issues were put on the table we would have had to engage on a serious discussion. I don’t think we’re ready for serious discussions. Because the real issues don’t lend themselves to [140 Twitter] characters. The real issues don’t lend themselves to soundbites on television.”

Social media users criticized parts of Mrs. Nooyi’s remarks and called for a boycott of PepsiCo’s products. Actor James Woods, an outspoken Trump supporter, circulated the #BoycottPepsi hashtag on Tuesday and urged people to sell their PepsiCo stock.

Kellan Terry, a data analyst for the analytics firm Brandwatch, told the Chicago Tribune that mentions of the #BoycottPepsi hashtag had grown to more than 19,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

False reports claiming Mrs. Nooyi told Mr. Trump’s supporters to “take their business elsewhere” were also widely shared online.

A PepsiCo spokesman clarified the CEO’s comments in an email Wednesday to the Chicago Tribune, saying Mrs. Nooyi didn’t mean to imply that all of her employees were upset about the election.

“Mrs. Nooyi misspoke. She was referring to the reaction of a group of employees she spoke to who were apprehensive about the outcome of the election,” the statement said. “She never intended to imply that all employees feel the same way. We are incredibly proud of the diverse views and backgrounds across our workforce, and we are united in our desire for a brighter future.”

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