Employees scared for their safety after Donald Trump’s win: Indra Nooyi

New York: PepsiCo’s India-born CEO Indra Nooyi has said Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the elections has left her daughters, gay workers, employees and the non-whites devastated as there was “serious concern” among them about their safety in the US with Donald Trump as president.

“Do you have a box of tissues here,” Nooyi, a staunch Clinton supporter, said at the New York Times Dealbook Conference here when asked how she felt on the morning of November 9, when Trump won the presidential election.

A visibly dejected Nooyi said Clinton’s loss left her daughters and PepsiCo’s employees devastated and there were serious concerns among the company’s workers, especially the non-white employees, about their safety in an America with Trump as its president.

“I had to answer a lot of questions from my daughters, from our employees. They were all in mourning. Our employees were all crying. The question that they are asking, especially those who are not white ‘Are we safe’, women are asking ‘Are we safe’, LGBT people are asking ‘Are we safe’,” she said at the conference on November 10.

Nooyi said she had never thought she would have to answer such questions, stressing that people across America should be assured that they will continue to be safe in the country.

“The first thing that we all have to do is to assure everybody in the US that they are safe, nothing has changed because of this election. What we heard was election talk and that we will all come together and unify the country,” she said.

Congratulating President-elect Donald Trump, Nooyi said those who supported Clinton are mourning but life has to go on.

“The process of democracy happened, we just have to let life go on. We have to come together and life has to go on,” she said.

Nooyi voiced concern that real issues facing the country were not talked about in the election campaign and serious discussions cannot happen in “bursts of sound bites” or 140 characters on social media.

“…A lot of what should have been said during the elections, I dont think was said because I think we let the politics trump the issues. Pardon the pun, but I think that is what happened.

“The real issues that face us as a country were never talked about, the reason being that if the real issues were put on the table we would have had to engage on a serious discussion. I don’t think we are ready for serious discussions because the real issues don’t lend themselves to 140 characters, the real issues don’t lend themselves to sound bites on TV,” she said.

Nooyi emphasised that at some point the nation will have to “pick up the big issues of technological unemployment, global trade, immigration – all of which needs reform and have serious conversation about that.

“Who is going to call for that dialogue, who will participate in that dialogue and what are we going to do about the dialogue are all big questions. I don’t know how we can have it in short bursts of sound bites. It would be counterproductive to do it in sound bites,” she said.

On the protectionist and isolationist campaign rhetoric, Nooyi said she worries that there might be “discrimination” against American companies overseas if there is protectionism in the US but expressed hope that what Trump said during the election campaign will be different from what actually happens under his presidency.

“I’m sincerely hoping based on the talk we heard from our President-elect the day after the election, that what we heard before the election and what we are really going to see in action are quite different. That it is much more measured, more sensitive to the trade deals we have already. That we want to build this county the right way going forward and not necessarily retreat into isolationism,” she said.

Nooyi was unequivocally critical of Trump’s lewd and obscene remarks against women during his campaign that he had described as “locker room” talk.

“How dare we talk about women that way. Why do we talk that way about a whole group of citizens. I don’t think there is place for that kind of language in any part of society – not in locker rooms, not in football players’ homes, not in any place. If we don’t nip it in the bud, this is going to be a lethal force that is going to take over society.

“Locker room conversation about women is absolutely intolerable. That too that kind of locker room conversation,” she said referring to the lewd remarks made by Trump against women in a leaked 2005 video.

“This has just got to stop,” Nooyi said to a huge round of applause from the audience.