Now a handful of U.S. executives seemingly unconnected with Trump's empire have voiced their distaste -- albeit cautiously -- with the mogul's rhetoric.
On Tuesday, the day after Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigrants, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a general reference to the issue in a speech accepting the Ripple of Hope Award at a benefit for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. "Today, some in our country would turn away innocent men, women and children seeking refuge from persecution and violence — regardless of how many background checks they are willing to submit to — simply based on where they were born," he said. "Victims of war and now victims of fear and misunderstanding."
On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post that "if you're a Muslim in this community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you.”
Then on Friday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in his first post on Medium that "it’s so disheartening to see the intolerant discourse playing out in the news these days — statements that our country would be a better place without the voices, ideas and the contributions of certain groups of people, based solely on where they come from, or their religion," he wrote. "Let’s not let fear defeat our values. We must support Muslim and other minority communities in the U.S. and around the world."
All three have something in common: They don't explicitly mention Trump, even if their messages seem to be a clear response to Trump's proposal for a temporary shutdown.
The CEOs may be reticent to point a finger at Trump could be for many reasons. They may not want to give him more attention, for one. As Google's Pichai wrote, "I debated whether to post this, because lately it seems that criticism of intolerance just gives more oxygen to this debate."
Or they may believe that the views of some other GOP candidates aren't that far off from Trump's. Sen Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has suggested, for example, that there be a religious test for incoming Syrian refugees, saying “there is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror.”
Meanwhile they may also recognize that the likelihood of such a ban on one religious group from entering this country is still extremely remote. Earlier this year, CEOs like Salesforce's Marc Benioff and Marriott's Arne Sorenson spoke out in force against laws that had been passed or were pending approval that would make it legal for businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. But for this ban against a religious group of foreigners Trump would first have to be elected and then it would still have to pass legal muster.
Finally Bloomberg reported Friday that CEOs may be staying relatively quiet because they worry about alienating people. “Businesses will sit on the sidelines unless there’s something truly profound that is threatening their brand or their industry or their product,” John Hudak, a fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, told Bloomberg, adding that since criticizing him has not done that, "I think there are some people who are hoping perhaps ignoring him will.”
Whatever their reasons, it's notable more CEOs -- particularly outside the tech industry, where vocal supporters of progressive social issues are much more common -- haven't piped up publicly about the highly divisive remarks. It surely affects large groups of the people who work for them or who buy from them.
If such rhetoric continues, we may very well hear more business leaders realize they should add their voice to the debate. After all, every customer, employee or partner they could potentially lose by speaking out may be balanced by one they would gain.