Walt Disney Company CEO, Bob Iger, at the company shareholder meeting, rejected a request that he quit President Donald Trump’s business advisory committee over Trump’s policies. Iger, while objecting to a number of the president’s policies, gave the sensible answer that it is best be “in the room” so that he can address his concerns directly to the president.

For business leaders, Iger’s stand is the correct one in this divisive political environment.

Businesses face the threat of boycott and lost customers for a myriad of actions a company might or might not take. But, by taking a stand on issues directly with policymakers is a unique opportunity. Indeed, Iger called it a “privileged opportunity.” Certainly, the executive of an entertainment corporation has as much right to share his opinion as the celebrities who work for the company and feel no compunction to hold back their thoughts on current politics.

Business leaders often have to face criticism for engaging on one side of an issue or, in some instances, staying silent. They should participate in the exchange of ideas and not shut down.

As I wrote recently about boycotts setting off landmines in the marketplace of ideas, a major goal of boycotts is to shut off debate and that is a dangerous thing. Our great civic divide would deepen because people are not talking to each other.

By staying on the committee, business leaders can hear from the president and his team about why they take certain positions. If Iger has issues with the president’s positions on the travel ban or immigration–if the Disney shareholders who complained about Iger maintaining his position on the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum because of the president’s policies–what better place to air those concerns and suggest changes in policy than to the president in person.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick left the business forum under pressure from customers. Now he has no voice in the policymaking discussions. Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X has decided, like Iger, to continue on the business forum for the same reasons Iger chose to remain.

Iger defended his stand by quoting from the musical, “Hamilton.” Many lyrics to the song, “The Room Where It Happens” seem appropriate for defense of remaining on the forum. The entire lyrics are here but some samples:

Two Virginians and an immigrant walk into a room
Diametric’ly opposed, foes
They emerge with a compromise, having opened doors that were
Previously closed


And I wanted what I got
When you got skin in the game, you stay in the game
But you don’t get a win unless you play in the game
Oh, you get love for it, you get hate for it


I wanna be in
The room where it happens

Play the game, expect love and hate, but open doors that were closed and find compromise by being “in the room.”