The rally followed a series of racist tweets in which Trump suggested that four minority congresswomen “go back” to their home countries. Three were born in America and all four are US citizens.
Kaeser suggested that Trump’s attacks do not reflect the America he knows. He worked as chief financial officer of Siemens Microelectronics in San Jose, California, during the 1990s.
Many corporate leaders expressed optimism in the early days of the Trump administration that they could find common ground with a president who had run a business of his own and who wanted to cut corporate taxes and slash regulations. But the administration’s focus on immigration and other divisive social issues, combined with its aggressive prosecution of a trade war with China, has soured the White House’s relationship with many big global companies.
Kaeser, 62, who started work at Siemens in 1980 and become CEO in 2013, has demonstrated a willingness to speak frankly on controversial political issues.
Earlier in the year, Kaeser sharply criticized a German lawmaker, saying that their nationalism would harm the country’s prosperity.
“I’m there to represent the company and be accountable to the shareholders; on the other hand, if people turn their head away. … Well, we had that time in Germany,” Kaeser told the Financial Times in May 2018.
“Nobody spoke up. Then it was too late,” he added.
“As soon as I heard of his death, it was clear to me that we couldn’t simply move on and do business as usual,” Kaeser said last October.
Siemens has nearly 380,000 employees around the world. It makes products such as high speed trains, air conditioning plants, energy transmissions systems and gas turbines.
It has substantial operations in the United States including production and research centers.
Speaking at her annual news conference in Berlin, Merkel said: “I distance myself from this decidedly and stand in solidarity with the women who were attacked.”
She added that from her perspective the United States’ strength “lies exactly in the fact that people of very different nationalities contribute.”
— Martin Goillandeau contributed reporting.