February 02, 2018

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been pretty vocal about gay rights, and has openly discouraged legislation that infringes on access to products and services for LGBTQ people. (AP Photo/ Marcio Jose Sanchez)   

This story was updated on 8/10/18

In April, a Starbucks employee in Philadelphia called the police on two black men standing in a store. It was a PR nightmare. So a month later, Starbucks employees underwent a mandatory racial bias training that closed thousands of stores across the country and cost the company millions of dollars. It goes to show that today, people want more from companies. They don’t just expect good products, and quality service — they want company leadership to take stances on major social issues. We talk with Duke University associate professor Aaron Chatterji about what's motivating big business to get more political. 

Three Takeaways: 

  • CEOs weren't always interested in publicly sharing their political opinions. For a long time, CEOs adhered to something called the "Michael Jordan dictum." The philosophy stemmed from a reported instance in which His Airness wouldn't comment on a political matter. Jordan didn't want to alienate consumers because, he allegedly said, "Republicans wear sneakers, too."
  • So why might CEOs start taking stances all of a sudden? Millennials. Chatterji says some CEOs could be hoping to appeal to younger customers who are more likely to align their personal politics with their spending habits.
  • When it comes to LGBTQ issues, Chatterji says CEOs don't feel like they're taking much of a risk when they announce a public pro-gay stance. In many instances, the public stance merely reflects the internal policies these companies have had for decades.
More Reading:

CEOs, Business, Tim Cook, social issues, Aaron Chatterji

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