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Food and Beverage

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi on election: People are asking, 'Are we safe?'

Indra Nooyi, speaking with Andrew Ross Sorkin at the Dealbook conference, November 10, 2016 in New York.
Mike Cohen | The New York Times
Indra Nooyi, speaking with Andrew Ross Sorkin at the Dealbook conference, November 10, 2016 in New York.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was among corporate America's staunchest Hillary Clinton supporters. After the election, Nooyi has had a lot of work to do assuring her employees — and her daughters — that everything was going to be OK.

Following Donald Trump's stunning upset Tuesday, Nooyi said her daughters and some of her employees were "in mourning." For her non-white employees, the emotions were even more somber.

"I had to answer a lot of questions, from my daughters, from my employees, they were all in mourning," Nooyi said. "Our employees are all crying, and the question that they are asking, especially those that are not white: 'Are we safe?' Women are asking, 'Are we safe?' LGBT people are asking, 'Are we safe?' I never thought I'd have had to answer those questions."

The head of the consumer packaged goods giant spoke Thursday at the DealBook Conference in New York City, hosted by CNBC anchor and New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin.

That fear came from Trump's campaign trail rhetoric threatening to keep Muslims out of the country, a message that seemed to fade during the latter days of the race.

Nooyi noted that she's supportive of the president-elect, however, and she has a message for both her employees and her daughters: Relax.

"The first thing that we all have to do is to assure everyone living in the United States that you are safe. Nothing has changed as a result of this election," Nooyi said. "The process of democracy has happened. We just have to let life go on."

Nooyi said she regretted both the tone of the campaign and the lack of real discussion over important issues.

"A lot of what should have been said during the election, I don't think was said. We let the politics trump the issues, pardon the pun," she said. "The real issues that are facing the country, we never talked about."

Those issues, she said, include technology, unemployment, trade and immigration.

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