According to tipsters, Boston Consulting Group CEO Rich Lesser is dealing with a very unfamiliar sensation: Internal unrest at Boston Consulting Group.
Lesser is a member of the Trump Administration's Strategic and Policy Forum and was actually at today's meeting with the President at which Trump asked Jamie Dimon to teach him about Dodd-Frank, said that the law is hurting his rich friends and seemed to barely resist the urge to french kiss Jack Welch. Not present at the meeting were Uber CEO Travis Kalanick or Disney CEO Bob Iger. After dealing with public fallout from Trump's muslim travel ban, Kalanick resigned from the forum yesterday and Iger suddenly remembered that he was washing his hair today...all day.
But, like we said, Lesser was there at the White House to listen as Trump praised the private sector and pledged to rip up Obama's regulatory legacy piece by piece. That reality is not sitting well with many of his employees however, who are much less concerned with the reality of a Wall Street looking to spend (yay!) but pretty incensed about Lesser's fence-sitting on Trump's radical moves on immigration.
On Wednesday, Lesser availed himself of his LinkedIn page to issue what is a comment on Trump's ban.
Here is that statement:
Recently, I had the opportunity to communicate to BCG’s global staff on the recent US executive order on travel and immigration. Today I would like to share the theme of those thoughts more broadly.
We have an incredibly strong global community at BCG. The Executive Order has brought immediate challenges to some of our colleagues, as well as many others, and we are doing everything we can to support our affected employees around the world.
Diversity has been and will continue to be a foundational element of BCG. Diversity of background, expertise, and experience delivers superior results for our clients and adds meaningfully to the culture and fabric of our firm. We are strongly committed to ensuring BCG remains a community where individuals can flourish and succeed, regardless of origin, ethnicity, religion, gender, identity or sexual orientation.
Diversity is not a "nice-to-have" and immigration and global mobility play a critical role in achieving it. On a personal level, when I led our New York office some years ago, almost half of our team was born outside the US and that diversity was essential to our success. Now as BCG's CEO, I see every day how multinational teams create advantage by bringing together different perspectives and ideas to drive innovation, opportunity and growth.
We recognize that there are many components that will go into defining a robust immigration policy for the United States including National Security, national competitiveness, and America's open culture and welcoming spirit. We will contribute meaningfully to this discussion, expressing our views and concerns to highlight the essential role that immigration and diversity play in contributing to the vibrancy of the economy and society.
For some inside BCG, Lesser's post reads like a limp and tepid word parfait made up of bland facts and broad promises all presented in a pool of the morally ambiguous yogurt that is Lesser's role on Trump's advisory council.
The post has also generated a pretty critical comments section with a number of former BCG employees asking Lesser to clarify his stance on Trump's immigration policies. Current BCGers are also feeling a little uncertain about if Lesser's Trump role means more. "It's something people are aware of" said a BCG employee speaking anonymously. "A lot of companies are dealing with this right now and some people here are unhappy. But this is BCG. We'd prefer [Lesser] be in the room with Trump than not."
For those at BCG unhappy with Lesser, the anger is not helped by the fact that even McKinsey's global managing director Dominic Barton reportedly told staffers that he was "very disappointed and concerned by this turn of events.”
But Lesser is in a tougher spot than most CEOs. In addition to serving on the policy forum, BCG senior advisor Ron Nicol was a key member of Trump's transition team and BCG takes in the most revenue by far from government contracts of the big three consulting firms.
Lesser is not in the position of freewheeling West Coast new economy elites like Kalanick and Elon Musk who can react in real-time to millennial whims. And he doesn't have the rights to Star Wars and Marvel to fall back on should shit hit the fan like Bob Iger. He's also not gifted with the extraordinary luxury of not caring anymore like Jack Welch. In fact, Lesser is in the terrible position of having to play both sides against the middle during a political hurricane while also running one of the most collaborative firms in finance.
Sounds like Rich Lesser could use a good consultant.