Corporate America has challenged Trump’s leadership and they will engage in unprecedented levels of climate advocacy in 2019. They will speak out against Trump’s presidency because they realize that they have no choice, silence is no longer an option. Standing up to Trump is now synonymous with protecting their brands.
As explained in The Conversation: “Staying out of politics is no longer an option for the corporate world, even if its tactics can sometimes clash with strategies to optimise profits.”
Corporate resistance to Trump is not new, however, it is intensifying. CEOs from companies like Tesla, Patagonia, Starbucks, General Motors, JP Morgan and Walmart have all spoken out against this president.
They have repeatedly rebuked Trump and some played an uncharacteristically active role supporting Democrats in the midterm elections of 2018.
CEO’s have spoken out on a range of issues including his equivocation on Neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, his selling off of wild places like Bear’s Ears national monument, and his decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. In November a total of 176 companies signed a letter opposing the president’s efforts to limit transgender rights.
This is a trend that will keep growing according to Monica LaBarge, an assistant professor of marketing at Queen’s University’s Smith School of Business. “For sure we’ve started increasingly to see — especially in the U.S. — more corporate activism around political topics,” LaBarge told the Huffington Post. “Increasingly we’re going to see companies being pushed to take a political stance that they never would have in the past.”
Companies cannot be silent in the face of Trump’s corruption, lies, racism, sexism, and attacks against American institutions. They cannot sit idly by as he derides historic American allies, erodes multilaterlism, engages in trade wars and panders to despots. The reasons for the president’s efforts to make nice with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin are becoming ever more obvious and companies can no longer ignore the writing on the wall.
The weakness of his so called strengths are becoming more obvious by the day. The implosion of the stock market (worst December since the great depression), the government shutdown and a recession looming on the horizon make it hard to support this president’s economic agenda.
There is no escaping the conclusion that Trump’s actions are motivated by purely political considerations. The majority of American consumers expect corporations to be ethical they expect them to stand up to injustice. What business leaders do or don’t do is a matter of public record and they will be judged according. Opposing the commander and chief may not come easily to corporate heads, but they cannot afford turn a blind eye to the risks associated with silence.
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