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Sinead Moore 1 Feb 2017 12:09pm

EY and PwC speak out on Trump travel ban

Two of the Big Four eager to reassure and protect employees affected by Donald Trump’s executive order blocking visitors from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days

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Caption: Trump's ban has been met with global backlash

The order applies to admission and re-entry into the US for all individuals from the seven listed countries that are not already US citizens. It also suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Trump said the immigration ban on the seven predominantly Muslim countries was “not about religion” but about terror and “keeping our country safe”.

However, valid visa holders and longtime permanent residents with green-cards along with refugees who have been approved entry to the US have been detained and in some cases denied entry in the hours after the order was signed.

National stay was later granted to those detained at US airports with the threat of deportation after The American Civil Liberties Union and other challengers filed a lawsuit on behalf of individuals who were subject to the ban. The White House also seemed to reverse a key part of the order saying that green card holders would not be blocked from returning to the US.

BIG FOUR

PwC was the first of the Big Four firms to reach out to employees in the wake of the ban warning “silence isn’t an option”.

The firm’s US chairman posted a message to the employees of PwC’s US firm on Facebook saying, “We’re in the process of evaluating how the executive order impacts our people, and our Global Mobility team is contacting anyone we think may be affected.”

He told staff, “I want to reinforce that PwC stands for inclusion, understanding, acceptance and equal opportunity for all…full stop.”

“We know that talent has no borders and that our firm, our clients, and our country all benefit when people of all backgrounds have the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Ryan reminded staff that “an act of compassion can go a long way” and urged employees to support each other.

He wrote, “One lesson I’ve learned over the last few months is that when there are difficult issues affecting our people, silence isn’t an option.”

“We are a team that is made stronger by people of different backgrounds, beliefs, culture and the many other dimensions of diversity. Let’s stand together and keep our focus on the important work that we do and the clients who are depending on us,” he concluded.

EY’s global chairman and CEO, Mark Weinberger said the executive order “will have an impact on our ability to work as a globally connected organisation.”

He added that the firm has communicated “to all of EY’s quarter of a million people around the world that we are working through the implications of this order and stand ready to assist any impacted employees”.

Weinberger stressed, “The strength of EY lies in our people, values and culture, all of which are built on a foundation of respect for all individuals.”

He added, “Efforts to strengthen national security, which underlie the Executive Order, are important and must be balanced with the commitment to being an open and free country that recognises, and cherishes, the value of all people, including immigrants. 

“That is the only certain way to achieve sustainable economic and physical security. We need to work together to achieve this balance and have a productive dialogue, informed by what we are hearing around the world. We commit to engage fully in this dialogue.”

EY has offices in Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Deloitte and KPMG have been contacted for comment. Deloitte said the firm is not commenting at this time.

Deloitte has offices in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, and KPMG has offices in Yemen.

BIG BUSINESS

Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein left a message in staff voicemail inboxes saying the executive order “is not a policy we support” adding that the bank is “focused on supporting our colleagues and their families who may be affected”.

He added that now was “fitting time” to reflect on the bank’s stated commitment to diversity.

Michael Corbat, chief executive of CitiGroup reportedly wrote to staff saying, “We are concerned about the message the executive order sends, as well as the impact immigration policies could have on our ability to serve our clients and contribute to growth.”

Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz also voiced a strong opposition to the order and pledged to hire 10,000 refugees in the US in the wake of the order, which he said calls the promise of the American Dream into question.

“There are more than 65 million citizens of the world recognised as refugees by the United Nations, and we are developing plans to hire 10,000 of them over five years in the 75 countries around the world where Starbucks does business,” he wrote in an open letter.

He added that the company has been in “direct contact” with employees impacted by the ban and is doing “everything possible to support and help them to navigate through this confusing period”.

TECH SPEAKS OUT

Tech firms were also quick to criticise the order and offer their support to employees.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to his Facebook page to voice his concern writing, “The United States is a nation of immigrants, and we should be proud of that.”

Zuckerberg said, “We need to keep this country safe, but we should do that by focusing on people who actually pose a threat.”

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings added, "Trump's actions are hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all."

“It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity," he added.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said, "The executive order's humanitarian and economic impact is real and upsetting” while Apple CEO Tim Cook, said, "Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.”

In an email obtained by Redcode, Cook said, "There are employees at Apple who are directly affected by yesterday's immigration order. Our HR, Legal and Security teams are in contact with them, and Apple will do everything we can to support them.”

Cook said the company has reached out to the White House “to explain the negative effect on our co-workers and our company".

Microsoft is also providing legal advice and assistance to employees affected by the order. The company said at least 76 employees were affected. 

"As an immigrant and as a CEO, I’ve both experienced and seen the positive impact that immigration has on our company, for the country, and for the world. We will continue to advocate on this important topic," CEO Satya Nadella wrote in a blog post. 

Google CEO Sundar Pichai urged employees travelling overseas who may be affected by the ban to return to the US immediately in a memo to Google staff obtained by Bloomberg.

According to the memo, more than 100 employees are affected by the order.

"It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues," Pichai wrote.

"We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so."

Employees from Google staged a large-scale walkout on Monday at eight campuses across the US to protest the immigration order.


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