Major corporations are increasingly expected to play a societal role beyond just providing goods or services: more and more often, they’re expected to weigh in on issues of public morality.
In the most instance, the CEOs of Merck and UnderArmor stepped down from the White House manufacturing council following Trump’s initial response to the Charlottesville violence that was widely panned in the media as insufficiently tough on white nationalists. Both CEOs’ decisions to step down received applause from public figures, including in the media. “I’m going out to buy Under Armour,” declared MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.
Domain hosting company GoDaddy.com booted neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer from from its servers late Sunday night, citing violations of its terms of service after the website posted an article trashing the 32-year-old woman who died on Saturday.
In one high-profile instance of corporate preening, Starbucks announced — as a direct rebuke to Trump’s travel ban — that it would be hiring 10,000 refugees in 75 countries over the next five years.
Companies who take an insufficient moral stance on public issues — as determined by left-wing activists — can oftentimes find themselves targeted by those activists.
Left-wing activists have continued to target Chick-Fil-A — not because they have any issues with the company’s policies or standards of service, but because they disagree with statements the company CEO made about gay marriage in 2012, citing his Christian faith.
Video of protesters in New York on Monday showed them targeting Chick-Fil-A at an event ostensibly meant to protest the president. “Hey hey! Ho ho! Chick-Fil-A has got to go!” they shouted at the fast food restaurant.
— Matthew Chayes (@chayesmatthew) August 14, 2017
Corporations are increasingly expected by leftist activists to make moral judgments through their advertising budgets as well. Fox News cancelled “The O’Reilly Factor” in April after advertisers pulled their money from the show amidst a slew of sexual harassment accusations against host Bill O’Reilly. The advertisers pulled the ads following an intense pressure campaign from left-wing activists who claimed the advertisers had a moral obligation to defund “The O’Reilly Factor.”
Media Matters and other left-wing activists have launched similar efforts to take down Fox News host Sean Hannity. Those efforts have been unsuccessful so far, although they remain ongoing.
Advertisers have also received high praise for morally condemning use of their products for perceived racist actions or statements.
On Sunday, Tiki Torch denounced white nationalists’ use of their torches at the rally in Charlottesville. It’s not immediately clear what the company’s denunciation achieved besides earning positive media coverage.
After then-candidate Donald Trump was heard referencing candy Tic-Tacs on a tape where he bragged about hitting on women and being able to grab women “by the pussy,” the candy company condemned Trump’s comments. “Tic Tac respects all women. We find the recent statements and behavior completely inappropriate and unacceptable,” read a statement from the company.
Tic Tac respects all women. We find the recent statements and behavior completely inappropriate and unacceptable.
— Tic Tac USA (@TicTacUSA) October 8, 2016
In a similar instance, Skittles weighed in after Donald Trump Jr. tweeted a picture of a bowl of Skittles with the caption: “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful?” A vice-president at the candy company issued a statement in response: “Skittles are candy. Refugees are people….We don’t feel it is an appropriate analogy.”
After President Trump was heard complimenting French first lady Brigitte Macron for being “in such great shape,” the athletic company Reebok directly addressed Trump’s comment in social media, arguing that it’s never appropriate to tell a woman: “You’re in such good shape…beautiful.”
In case you were wondering when it IS appropriate to say, “You’re in such good shape…beautiful,”… THIS: pic.twitter.com/Z1cnnRD8Ut
— Reebok (@Reebok) July 14, 2017
(As many on social media pointed out, however, Reebok has routinely used scantily-clad women to sell its products.)
Perhaps the most consistent moral condemnation of Trump from the corporate sector came after the president announced that the US would be withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords.
Dozens of major companies — even companies whose products had little to nothing to do with American energy policies — came out in full force against Trump’s withdrawal from the climate deal.
“We are deeply disappointed by the recent shift in climate policy,” read a statement from athletic apparel company Nike. “Climate change is a serious global threat,” Nike asserted, adding that “the world will need to radically redesign industrial systems and economies in order to enable a low-carbon growth economy.”
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