Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein fired off a company-wide voicemail on Sunday night saying he does not support President Donald Trump’s order to halt arrivals from several Muslim-majority countries.
“This is not a policy we support, and I would note that it has already been challenged in federal court, and some of the order has been enjoined at least temporarily,” Blankfein said in a message sent out to the firm’s global staff, Reuters reported.
The comments followed a weekend of confusion and protests over Trump’s ban on travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries and a freeze on the U.S. refugee program.
Blankfein said diversity was a hallmark of Goldman’s success. If the temporary freeze became permanent, it could create “disruption” for the bank and its staff, he said.
“I recognize that there is potential for disruption, and especially to some of our people and their families,” the Goldman Sachs CEO said in the voicemail.
Like other global banks, Goldman has a significant presence in the Middle East. The bellwether bank has offices in Israel, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – though none of which are part of the ban.
In the voicemail, Blankfein said Goldman executives will “work to minimize such disruption to the extent we can within the law and are focused on supporting our colleagues and their families who may be affected.”
Goldman is the latest global company to raise concern over Trump’s travel ban. In Silicon Valley, heads of companies like Apple and Facebook were swift to denounced Trump’s immigration ban. But most of corporate America has been wary about speaking out, underscoring the sensitivities around opposing policies that could provoke backlash from the White House.
Other banks, including Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co, said they were reviewing the executive order and its implication on staff.
Representatives for stock exchange operators Bats Global Markets, Nasdaq Inc and New York Stock Exchange parent Intercontinental Exchange Inc all declined to comment.
The U.S. hedge fund industry was also virtually silent on the immigration restrictions, with most major firms – including Bridgewater Associates, Renaissance Technologies, Millennium Management and Two Sigma Investments – ignoring requests for comment over the weekend.
Private equity firms, including Blackstone Group LP, whose CEO, Stephen Schwarzman, chairs Trump’s advisory panel of business leaders, also declined to comment on the travel ban.
People familiar with some of the banks’ and firms’ decisions in making public statements said a fear of riling Trump was inhibiting most CEOs’ response, Reuters reported.
Since the election, President Trump taken to Twitter to excoriate certain companies, causing stock price swings. And because Wall Street is hoping for an easing of financial reform regulations, most firms want to stay in Trump’s good graces, they said.
Interestingly, the most high-ranking Goldman executive to have joined to Trump administration is former Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn. He left Goldman in December to become head of the White House National Economic Council. Others include Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and Trump advisers Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci and Dina Powell.
These recruits put the Goldman back in the spotlight as a bank that long had influence in government and public policy, from the days of the Great Depression to the 2008 financial crisis.
But after the bank was embroiled in scandals over its mortgage-market bets, it embarked on a campaign to improve its image. In recent years, Blankfein has promoted Goldman’s focus on philanthropy and diversity initiatives, as well as its role in creating jobs.