Politics – the 21st century battleground for Corporate Values

The new President of the United States has brought us a few changes already, many bringing dismay to the population and leading to protests across the US, from cities, to airports to most recently- college campuses.  A wave of morose resistance is rising and there is a growing citizen response across America and the globe.

Amongst all the gloom, I see a silver lining (I know, it’s really annoying- this always looking for the positives thing): Maybe this year, will be the year that corporate values really matter and how brands stand by their values in the face of potentially opposing political policy.

The president has been in power for just 2 weeks and already we are seeing brands being positively and negatively affected by the actions they take on the fringes of all this political turmoil.The most prominent being Uber. Following a taxi strike at NYC airport in support of the protest  against the new immigration ban, Uber dropped their “surge pricing”. This combined with their CEO sitting on the President’s “Strategic and Policy Forum” and a history of being an aggressive player in the transport industry led to a #deleteuber movement trending on social media.  Such a high volume of customers began to delete the app that Uber had to make the process easier.

Meanwhile Uber’s arch rival in the US, Lyft rose to number 4 in the app download charts by shrewdly seizing the moment and donating $1 million to the ACLU, the civil liberties union which will be on point for the next 4 years fighting for the rights of everyday Americans.

What are we witnessing here?

Businesses visibly and aggressively winning and losing customers based on the values that they are demonstrating, even by the tiniest actions or in some cases lack of action.

We saw it last year too with Volkswagen as global profits dropped 20% following their emissions swindling, though – lucky for them – they have since bounced back.

The latest brand throwing its hat into the ring is Starbucks, with CEO Howard Schultz announcing that the company will hire 10,000 refugees in the next 5 years. A boycott movement began from those leaning hard to the right but now it seems that many consumers are actually more likely to go to Starbucks.

So here’s the wake up call:

  1. Corporate Values matter.
  2. Consumers continue to demand that brands have a purpose, and that it’s good.
  3. Social Values are at least equal if not more important than Environmental Performance
  4. Actions speak louder than words- brands must bring to life their values- physically.

This year is the year that brands must and will demonstrate their commitment to a better world, to a just world and to a planet that is protected from environmental degradation.

Which side of history will your company stand on?



1 Comment

  1. Ruth Nelson says:

    This is a very interesting article. I have recently co-founded a social enterprise that offers, as one wing, corporate seminars on connecting corporate values to actions, via mindfulness. We are still in the design phase and I’m curious/nervous about what the uptake will be like from businesses. Thanks for writing this – I’ve found it encouraging.

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