GE’s longtime CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, didn’t exactly ingratiate himself with Donald Trump during the campaign. He strongly criticized Trump statements seen as hostile to certain ethnic and religious groups. Nor is GE—a company earning nearly 65% of its revenue overseas, and widely criticized for using creative accounting to avoid U.S. taxes—on the “nice” list of a populist president who wants to rein in free trade and U.S. multinationals. But not so fast, says Immelt, in a chat with Fast Company at GE’s Minds+Machines conference in San Francisco:
We’re the country’s second biggest exporter. Between our employees and our suppliers, there’s a million people in the U.S. that depend on GE, that go to work every day. These are people in all of the Trump districts, all of the red states, all of those counties—probably everyone has some connection to G.E.
Don’t mess with that, Immelt seems to say, or you’ll hurt your own supporters.