More companies these days are choosing to air their views regarding social issues. Recently, the eyes of the world were focussed on America as the US Supreme Court made the highly contentious decision to restrict abortion rights… In turn this led to major demonstrations protesting against that ruling and several companies have emphasised their standpoint on the matter.
Corporates never used to be outspoken
Daryl Brewster, former president of Nabisco, recently recounted a discussion he had at a board meeting all the way back in 2004 concerning the safe use of ingredients and the subject of children’s nutrition. The quote he recounted from the meeting was: “Just shut up and make the Oreos.” It comes as no surprise that some big companies put money before the morally right thing to do! One of the directors at the same meeting wanted to keep the company’s energy and focus only on making biscuits and generating money for their shareholders. Luckily some changes came out of that meeting including adding clearer labelling for transparency and they also eliminated the use of trans-fatty acids.
Times have changed
Since then of course things have changed for the better and more and more companies now are confident enough to speak out on political matters, social issues, problems from climate change, diversity, and of course nutrition! As most know now it is very easy to understand what is in your food these days and nothing is allowed to be hidden. Luckily the ways of business have changed over the years for the better, let’s dig into that a little deeper.
Thinking about the bigger picture
Mr Brewster is now running the Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose which manages to give help to many of the world’s biggest companies executing their words and messages on global issues. Mr Brewster so humbly added that the act of making money is “not the opportunity anymore”. “Companies need to think through those issues that are relevant to them… how they’re going to respond and maybe even take action before these become major issues. Companies realise that to increase profits over time, they need to be good citizens of the world.” Mr Brewster said addressing the changes that corporate leadership has been subjected to within the last 20 years.
Speaking out for the right reasons
The US Supreme Court's decision to restrict women’s rights has led some of the biggest companies speaking up against the decision. Some companies have even offered to pay for their employees to travel to a different state if they needed an abortion, which is a benevolent offer but ridiculous it needed to be done in the first place. I’m glad major corporations speak out on subjects like this but it is always a little frustrating when you can tell it hasn’t been done out of passion for the subject but rather a pressing concern that they needed to speak out because other companies have already gone public with their views.
I’ll leave you with some questions; Where do you stand on companies getting involved in social issues? Do you agree it needs to be done? How do you think it could be better? Should some companies be doing more?
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