In the second of our two-part installment on corporate activism, we look at global regions to discover how companies are taking a stance on the subject and provide key takeaways and potential recommendations.
he line between company privacy and public advocacy is blurring. Business leaders today are under increasing pressure to take a stance on issues happening in their communities and beyond. And while some leaders are feeling the pressure from politicians, associations, customers or the general public, others believe their company’s economic standing demands a call to action.
Matthew McCarthy, recently appointed CEO of Ben & Jerry’s, is a prime advocate of this new reality. McCarthy spoke with CNBC about his new role and how businesses today have an obligation to be socially active. He thinks corporations should bolster their efforts to combat systemic racisim, and fight for social as well as environmental justice.
“Acknowledging that you are part of a community and being part of social change that you want to see… in the world that you serve, is part of your business,” said McCarthy.
However, for those companies that do not have a four decade track record of corporate activism like Ben & Jerry’s, deciding when, and how, to start commenting on socio-political topics is a daunting prospect.
Perhaps more difficult is deciding which issue to take a stance on. Doing so requires meticulous preparation and analysis of the entire landscape, while taking into account national borders and layers of society (i.e. cultural norms, status quo, etc.). Even with the goal of boosting their reputation, corporations may still be hesitant. The news is filled with companies that have gone from positive intentions to a defensive position — often because they did not consider all the possible implications of their statements.
Given the key regional differences across the globe — from legislation to culture to status quo — no single strategy will do. To successfully carry out corporate activism initiatives, businesses must pay close attention to topical issues happening within their purview and find innovative ways to address them.
Granted, the radical nature of advocacy can lead to governmental scrutiny. Some businesses could see a negative impact on their license to operate. That is why having a comprehensive game plan is crucial.
Corporate activism is one of the few ways that companies can bridge the gap between public and private interests and make a positive impact on their communities. For businesses looking to drive that change, here are select key findings and recommendations from a comprehensive audit where FTI Consulting researched 35 separate case studies of corporate activism: