In an open letter to Baltimore that appeared as a
full-page ad in
The Baltimore Sun
, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank addressed comments he made regarding President Donald Trump during a TV interview.
Plank's letter that appeared Feb. 15 spelled out his company's values and laid out planned future actions. The letter followed adverse reaction to comments he made during a CNBC interview when Plank said, "To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country." Plank has been participating in Trump's Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.
Criticism came quickly, including from Under Armour endorsers NBA star Steph Curry, ballerina Misty Copeland and action film star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
In Plank's open letter, the CEO said, "In a business television interview last week, I answered a question with a choice of words that did not accurately reflect my intent. I want to clarify to our hometown exactly the values for which Under Armour and I stand."
Plank enumerated those values as standing for equal rights; that immigration is a "source of strength, diversity and innovation" for American companies like Under Armour and job creation.
Although Plank's letter does not mention Trump by name, it addresses the administration's attempt to restrict travel and immigration from some parts of the Middle East and Africa.
Saying "actions speak louder than words," Plank discussed future actions the company planned to take regarding the new administration's policies.
"With an anticipated new executive order on immigration set to come out, we will join a coalition of companies in opposition to any new actions that negatively impact our team, their families or our community," Plank wrote.
In addition, Plank said, "We are taking other public positions on legislation around the country in support of the interests of our teammates whenever policy conflicts with human rights."
Apart from the Trump-related controversy, Plank's letter also mentioned initiatives and contributions the company has made in the region, such as the Under Armour House at Fayette, a community center in East Baltimore that is the result of partnerships with the Baltimore Ravens and Living Classrooms; a Manufacturing Bootcamp in Port Covington, and the Under Armour Lighthouse, a manufacturing research facility.
Plank isn't the only business leader to face public criticism after words or deeds that were considered supportive of Trump.
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty has faced criticism from inside and outside the company for participating in Trump's White House business advisory council. She recently released an email to employees on the subject of the administration's travel and immigrations bans. While saying IBM "does not espouse a partisan or political point of view," Rometty said the company would not be what it is today "without the benefit of immigration."
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has also been criticized for participating in the business advisory council and has said participating in the forum did not mean he agreed with Trump's policies.