Corporate Activism

June 5, 2020 • Volume 30, Issue 21
Should companies take a stand on social and political issues?
By Glen Justice


Driven by the expectations of young, socially conscious consumers, some U.S. corporations are taking stands on policy issues ranging from gun control and race relations to immigration and climate change — issues that few companies would have touched a few years ago. Many CEOs see advocacy as not only the right thing to do but as a sound business strategy. Growing numbers of consumers want to know where companies stand on social issues, and often will support a business that aligns with their values — or shun one that does not. Employees are increasingly vocal as well, pushing employers to take a position. But skeptics warn that in a highly polarized nation, corporate activism risks alienating customers and eroding confidence in a brand. They point to consumer boycotts and protests that have followed controversial ads and political stances. These critics think companies should stick to their core mission: making money. Strong, profitable companies, they say, are good for shareholders, workers and their communities.emphasis>

Airbnb's “Is Mankind?” ad in 2015 supported transgender Americans (screenshot)
Airbnb's “Is Mankind?” ad in 2015 supported transgender Americans at a time when their rights were a subject of hot debate. Such corporate activism has become more common in the United States. (screenshot)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Protest Movements and Counter Culture
Jun. 05, 2020  Corporate Activism
May 01, 2020  Global Protest Movements
Jan. 05, 2018  Citizen Protests
Aug. 28, 1998  Student Activism
Jan. 04, 1991  The Growing Influence of Boycotts
Aug. 22, 1986  Student Politics 1980s Style
May 13, 1983  Christian Peace Movement
Apr. 08, 1970  Politics and Youth
Nov. 19, 1969  Challenges for The 1970s
Aug. 21, 1968  Reorganization of the Universities
Jan. 10, 1968  Universities and the Government
Jan. 03, 1968  Peace Movements in American Politics
Oct. 12, 1966  Alienated Youth
Feb. 24, 1966  Protest Movements in Time of War
May 19, 1965  Campus Unrest
Aug. 14, 1963  Mass Demonstrations
Dec. 11, 1957  Student Movements
Aug. 17, 1939  Conscientious Objection to War
Civil Rights Movement
Conservatism and Liberalism
Consumer Behavior
Domestic Issues
General Social Trends
Internet and Social Media
Lobbying and Special Interests
Powers and History of the Presidency
Protest Movements
Radio and Television
Student Movements