Apple CEO Tim Cook explains why he spoke out about Trump's immigration policies: 'We have a lot of immigrants that work at Apple... I want to stand up for them"

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  • Speaking at the Fortune CEO Initiative in San Francisco Monday evening, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained why he chose to speak publicly against President Trump’s immigration policies.
  • Cook thinks CEOs should be cautious about commenting on issues where they don’t have “significant standing,” but urged CEOs to speak out when a public policy doesn’t align with their company values.
  • “If you don’t [speak out], you’re in the appalling silence of good people category, and this is something I’ve never wanted to be a part of,” Cook said.

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple CEO Tim Cook thinks chief executives should speak out when public policy contradicts their companies values.

Speaking at the Fortune CEO Initiative on Monday evening, Cook said he thinks companies should only speak out when they have a “significant standing” in a public issue. But he urged company leaders to be vocal when public policy contradicts their stated company values.

Apple CEO Tim Cook at Fortune eventStuart Isett/FortuneApple CEO Tim Cook speaks at the Fortune CEO Initiative 2018 on June 25, 2018, San Francisco, California.

“If you don’t [speak out], you’re in the appalling silence of good people category, and this is something I’ve never wanted to be a part of.”

Apple, Cook said, primarily speaks out about issues including education, the environment, human rights and immigration.

Immigration has been a frequent talking point for Cook, who last week went on the record to call the Trump administration’s immigration policy “inhumane,” adding that it “needs to stop.”

Cook said that Apple has a stake in immigration policy since so many of its employees are immigrants, and some of them crossed the border in situations similar to the immigrants facing Trump’s now-rescinded family separation policy.

“We have a lot of immigrants that work at Apple. If you look at the number of people that we have on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), we have over 300 folks,” Cook said. “I want to stand up for them.”

But Cook doesn’t think companies should address every public issue. He advised the audience of CEOs and business people to only speak up when their company has something unique to add to the conversation.

“There’s no formula about when you speak and when you don’t,” Cook said. “I don’t want Apple to be another talking head. We should only speak when we have certain knowledge to bring to the subject.”

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