There is a movement of Chief Executive Officer Activism rising, where CEOs would take a stand on social, political and environmental issues such as climate change, LGBT rights, race relations and others, that are unrelated to their organization’s agendas. A recent series of different public events such as the debates over bills and laws affecting citizens in Carolina, unlawful police shootings in Missouri, and orders on immigrant have led a significant number of CEOs to step in.
For instance, Nike CEO, Mark Parker, decided to feature ads with Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback to make a stand on racial justice. Or when Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh made a corporate donation towards preventing gun violence despite knowing the critism he will be facing.
例如，Mark Parker ，Nike的首席执行长，决定用国家美式足球联盟（NFL）的四分卫Colin Kaepernick作为广告人物，来为种族正义表明立场。或是像Levi Strauss & Co.的首席执行长Chip Bergh，尽管他知道会面临批评，但他还是对枪枝暴力做了企业捐款。
Currently, the world is noting that CEO Activists are getting a lot of media attention and public relation organizations are building practices around it. This phenomenon is largely seen in the United States, therefore most of the case example in this article will be from the US. However CEO activism is becoming a trend and is expected to develop in other nations.
Why CEOs are speaking up? 為什麼首席执行长在公開發表意見？
There are different reasons, why more and more CEOs are speaking up. Some of them argue that organizations should have a purpose that is beyond maximizing shareholders wealth. It should include maximizing value for their employees, customers, partners, environment, schools and communities at large. Which also is becoming more important to Millennials, whether they be employees or customers.
Some others are pointing at the importance of advocacy on controversial topics. For instance, PayPal CEO Dan Schulman took a stand against a North Carolina law requiring people to use the bathrooms or locker rooms corresponding with the gender on their birth certificates. As a result, PayPal pulled out its planned opening of new facilities in the state with Dan Schulman arguing: “Becoming an employer in North Carolina, where members of our teams will not have equal rights under the law, is simply untenable.”
有另一些人则指向对有争议的议题倡导。例如Dan Schulman ，PayPal的首席执行长，对北卡罗来纳州法提出异议。该法案要求人们使用与出生证明性别相对应的浴室或更衣室 。结果，PayPal 撤回它原订在该州的新运营中心计划。 Dan Schulman说：「 在北卡罗来纳州成为雇主，而我们团队成员根据法律不具有平等权利，简直无法站稳脚跟。」
For other CEOs it is more a personal belief. CEO of Hobby Lobby, a family owned chain of crafts stores, expressed his religious belief that is being violated in the Affordable Care Act law case, that requires employers to cover all forms of contraception at no cost.
对于其他首席执行长来说，比较像个人信念。 Hobby Lobby是一个家族经营的连锁手工艺品店。其首席执行长表了与他宗教信仰冲突的“平价医疗法案“，该法案要求雇主应该免费承担所有型式的避孕措施。
What can CEO activists do? 首席执行长活动家可以做些什么？
There are two main approaches CEO activits generally reach for:
· Leveraging economic power
· Raising awareness
Leveraging economic power 利用经济实力
There are various ways how companies and their leaders can leverage their economic power and put ecomonic pressure on nations to reject or overturn legislations. One way is to put economic pressure through denying business opportunities as in the case of Indianapolis. In a response to its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which people claimed to be a target against LGBT, a number of CEOs stepped in to protest. First the CEO of Angie’s List at the time, Bill Oesterle, cancelled their planning to expand into Indianapolis, then Salesforce CEO Benioff threatened to stop all the salesforce personnel travelling to the state. After that, other leaders also joined the protest and pressured the governor which resulted in a revision of the law.
首先， 当时Angie’s List的首席执行长Bill Oesterle，取消他们扩展到印第安纳波利斯的计画。接着，Salesforce 的首席执行长Benioff威胁要停止Salesforce的人事前往该州。在那之后，其他领导人也加入抗议，并对州长施加压力，最终进行法律的修改。
Another way is through the support of third party groups and organizations that is already working and fighting for their favoured causes. For example, car-sharing company Lyft pledged $1 million to an organization, that was challenging the ban in court.
Raising awareness 提高意识
Another approach is raising awareness, which mostly involves making public speeches and statements in the media such as Twitter and other media channels to encourage people to support social movements and calling out for changes. For instance, Goldman’s CEO, Blankfein Lloyd, and former CEO of Biogen, Mr. Scangos, both have addressed the media on some of the government policies that can have negative impact on the rights of the LGBTQ’s individuals. However, there are also CEOs on the conservative sprectrum speaking up and expressing their beliefs such as Dan Cathy who is the CEO of Chick-Fil-A , who has made his stand rejecting a gay marriage bill.
提高意识是另一个途径，这主要涉及在 Twitter和其他媒体管道公开演讲和声明，来鼓励人们参与社会运动并呼吁改变。例如，Goldman的首席执行长Blankfein Lloyd和前Biogen的首席执行长Mr. Scangos，他们都向媒体发表政府政策可能对LGBTQ个体权利所带来的负面影响。然而，也有首席执行长在比较保守的范围支持并表达他们的信念。比如Dan Cathy，Chick-Fil-A的首席执行长，他已经对同性婚姻法案提出反对立场。
In other instances, several CEOs have teamed up together and used collective effort to raise public awareness. For instance, few days towards signing of the United Nations climatic change negotiations in Paris, more than 14 CEOs of different food companies wrote an open letter requesting the government to address the real outcomes of the climate change. Similarly, nearly 100 CEOs cosigned an amicus brief to encourage federal judges to overturn Trump’s executive order banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
What impact does CEO activism have? 首席执行长的行动主义有什么影响？
CEO activism is relatively new and therefore not many studies on the impact exist yet, however based on different cases and smaller studies it is clear, that it is a fine line and can come with risks and rewards. Taking political stands could result in criticism and unfavorable effects on the brand. For example, when Under Amour CEO Kevin Plank referred to Trumps election as “real asset for the country”, one of his star pitchmen Stephen Curry expressed his displeasure publicly. A #BoycottUnderArmour movement was caused with other ambassadors following. Despite efforts to clarify Plank’s comments and his opposition to Trump’s immigration ban, it still caused Under Amour’s stocks to drop. Openly speaking up about issues, but not embodying it could lead to hypocrisy. And CEO activism that has not been thought through could be seen as clumsy. Take Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s Race Together campaign as an example, where Starbucks baristas were instructed to write “race together” on all drinks cups to help start conversation and combat racism.
首席执行长的行动主义是相对较新颖，因此在其影响的研究并不多。然而，根据不同案例和较小的研究，很明显地，它有所相似，而且会带来风险与回报。采取政治立场可能会引起批评和对品牌有不利的影响。例如，当Under Amour 的首席执行长Kevin Plank，将特朗普选举称为“该国的实际资产”时，他其中一位明星代言人－Stephen Curry，公开表达了他的不满。一个 #BoycottUnderArmour 的运动是由其他品牌大使跟随引起的。尽管努力澄清Plank的评论和他对特朗普的移民禁令的反对，还是造成Under Amour股票下跌。公开谈论议题但没有体现，可能会导致虚伪。而没有经过深思熟虑的首席执行长行动主义可能会被视为笨拙。就以Starbucks首席执行长Howard Schultz的Race Together活动来举例，Starbucks咖啡师被指示在所有饮料杯上写“race together”，来开起打击种族主义的对话。
On the other hand, it could also create corporate leader reputation and draw appraisal. For instance, when CEOs resigned from the US president’s councils in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, the applause for Merck’s Frazier, the first to step down, was particularly positive. “Mr. Frazier, thank you for your courageous stand,” tweeted U.S. representative Keith Ellison. Or according to the results from a small experiment, people knowing about Apple CEO Tim Cook’s activism in the Indiana’s religious freedom bill, were more likely to support and intend to buy Apple products. This shows that CEO activism could generate goodwill for the company.
在另一方面，这还可以创造企业领导者的声誉并进行鉴定。例如，当Charlottesville暴力事件发生后，首席执行长们从美国总统委员会辞职。而第一位下台的Merck Frazier，所得到掌声也相当肯定。美国议员Keith Ellison也推文：「Frazier谢谢你支持的勇气。」 或是根据一项小型实验，当人们知道Apple首席执行长Tim Cook在印第安纳州的宗教自由法案中的激进主义时，更有可能会购买Apple的产品。这显示，首席执行长的行动主义可以为公司带来信誉。
As a conclusion, there is evidence that CEO activism can influence public opinion and government policies, which hopefully leads to positive changes. Based on a Weber Shandwick survey 40% of respondents are more likely to support and purchase from a company if they agreed with the CEO’s position. Especially among millenials, there is a big majority voting for CEO activism and seeing it as their responsibility to speak up on issues unrelated to their business agenda. However, it is important to say, that they need to select their issues well and thouroughly. They have to be aware that there is always a risk of critism and disagreement, which could effect the corporate’s business and reputation. However, we see more and more an urge from society demanding that companies serve a social purpose and corporate leaders need to ask themselves, what role do we play in the community?
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