Business and Politics07/29/2021
Recently we have seen many businesses take on the cloak of politics. Corporations that in the past have remained neutral are suddenly taking political stands. The U.S. is still a free country, and every business has the right to promote themselves in whatever way they see fit. However, considering the current political division in this country, taking a hard stand may be business suicide.
Suzy Welch, Graduate of Harvard Business School and best Selling Author, said, "Business is business and politics is politics and never between shall meet." Why would anyone risk losing half of their market by taking a political stance?
The answer may lie with recent studies that suggest over 60% of Millennials and Generation Z prefer companies that stand for something. But why take a political stand? These same studies demonstrate that of those polled, over 50% were more likely to purchase from a socially conscious company. A brand can make a social statement without being political.
Noted economist and social philosopher Ludwig von Mises once said, "The mixing of politics and business not only is detrimental to politics, as is frequently observed but even much more so to business.” In the past year, we have observed several businesses regret taking a political stance. It does not seem to matter which way a company leans politically; the effect appears universal.
I appreciate that the company where I purchase my sunglasses provides meals to the hungry each time I purchase. I do not want a company I patronize to promote something I fight against politically. Roughly 50% of all consumers may disagree with your companies politics. Why would you give them the opportunity?
If you feel it necessary for your company to promote a social issue, choose one with care. Social causes often become politicized, and the opposing side will not care if you have good intentions. Pericles, a Greek statesman, said, "Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you."
Neutrality is often associated with cowardice, but taking a political stand with your business may be the equivalent of jumping in front of a bus and hoping the driver likes your politics.