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Dealing with Corporate Activism: Shop to It!
"Our view was always, 'Let's just run a business.'" Today, former Walmart CEO Bill Simon would be in the minority. As more companies pick sides in the cultural debate, he -- like a lot of executives -- is having a hard time understanding which business these CEOs are in: advancing left-wing advocacy or their company's brand?
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Things have changed a lot over Bill Simon's career. In the retail business, he remembers, it used to be simple. "We'll sell to anybody. We'll try to stay out of the public eye on issues that can be confrontational." Fast-forward to today, when everything -- including the marketplace -- is polarized. It's astonishing, he told me on "Washington Watch," to see the progression of corporations. Businesses, he says shaking his head, "are taking positions on things that I honestly wouldn't think [any business would take a position on, because] invariably [it alienates] a large customer base in one direction or the other." And yet, he points out, "boards of directors are sort of supporting it."
Most shoppers can't even walk down the aisle of the grocery store anymore without being hit over the head with a radical social agenda. Transgender Oreos with a pronoun guide? Rainbow kombucha? LGBT pride Listerine? And dozens more. But it isn't just the sexual agenda taking CEOs hostage anymore. Chains like MAC Cosmetics, H&M, Lush, Postmates, The Body Shop, Ben & Jerry's, Birchbox, Kenneth Cole, &Pizza took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to shame pro-lifers for passing abortion regulations that even "pro-choice" Americans support. Then there's SunTrust, who decided to wade into the immigration debate by cutting ties private firms running U.S. detention facilities. Why? Because they'd rather have open borders than thriving banks.
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To Bill, it's only a matter of time...
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