Why Companies Need To Be Politically Involved
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The United States was founded on the belief that the government would have limited oversight on private property. The checks and balances on government are ingrained in America’s root values of democracy and capitalism. But should companies use their influence on consumers to oversee the government and its policies? In recent times, companies becoming more involved in politics has sparked a debate on if and to what extent the private sector should interfere.
Department store chain Nordstrom is one of the most recent businesses to detach itself from President Donald Trump’s brand name, dropping Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing. While this isn’t a catastrophic loss for Trump’s fashion business, these kinds of political movements have polarizing effects on the private sector and consumers, especially when other corporations follow suit.
Companies have been heavily involved in politics since the country’s infancy. Every company sponsored campaign contribution or donation to a certain political party is by itself a political stance. Moreover, corporate lobbyists with special interests will often push for policies that benefit their respective industries.
Because of their powerful and far-reaching platform, companies have a responsibility to engage the public in politics. An educated and informed society is the keystone to a functioning democracy, and company involvement in politics accomplishes this by bringing abstract rhetoric by politicians to a more tangible level.
For example, Trump’s executive order banning Muslims from entering the United States border has stirred controversy among corporations. In response, influential CEOs such as Apple’s Tim Cook gave statements to communicate their company’s political opinions.
“I’ve heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries,” Cook said in an email to Apple employees. “I share your concerns. [The executive order] is not a policy we support.”
Having companies vocalize their political stances is also beneficial because it raises awareness of current issues. By speaking out against a certain political party or opinion, industry leaders speak to an audience that spans the political spectrum.
However, raising awareness is only part of the effect. By stating their political stance, companies can also democratize the push for political change. They enabled people to use their purchasing power to support the companies with which they agree and boycott companies they do not agree with. Individual citizens, who would not otherwise have political influence, effect change.
The recent #GrabYourWallet campaign highlights another benefit to consumers. The movement is promoting a boycott of any companies affiliated with Trump or his assets, forcing companies to either drop his line of products or suffer the economic fallout.
In short, informed decisions by individuals effect change. Because the United States economy is built on individual citizens, companies give citizens the choice to support the companies they align with by publicizing their political standpoints.