The battle between The Walt Disney Company and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been a nasty one.
Last month, Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill that would terminate a special tax district that has allowed The Walt Disney Company to self-govern the land that houses Walt Disney World in the Orlando area.
The move was done after the company sided with the far-left progressive opposition to the state’s Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the teaching of sexual and gender ideology to kids in kindergarten through third grade.
Now the fallout is raising concern among those on top of corporate America because now that Disney has chosen an ideological side in the arena of politics, more corporations are being told to follow suit.
There is a push among the progressive left to turn multinational corporations into fighters for social justice. Former National Finance Chair for Vice President Kamala Harris and the current CEO of C Street Advisory Group Jon Henes believes that it is now up to corporations to stand up for human rights.
“Whether today’s CEOs signed up for it or not, we cannot be just business leaders, we need to be human-rights leaders,” Henes said.
The CEO of C Street Advisory Group, in an interview with Business Insider, says that corporations must take a stand for marginalized members of their workforce when it comes to protesting Republican legalization.
He questioned, “Whether it’s LGBTQ rights, whether it’s Black Lives Matter, whether it’s abortion, it’s about people at your company feeling marginalized and feeling under attack. So the question is are you standing up for your employees? Or are you saying this group of employees doesn’t matter to me as much?”
“I think that is really where the rubber hits the road.” Henes said.
Ranjay Gulati, a Harvard Business School professor backs up Henes’s sentiment by stating that corporate silence is no longer an option. Gulati said that CEOs’ taking social stances that are important to employees and consumers should not be conflated with the notion that they are ignoring shareholders, who may suffer short-term financial blowback.
“Purpose is not saying shareholders don’t matter,” he said. “Purpose is saying we have greater clarity on our mission and that will help us create long-term value for shareholders.”
It isn’t surprising that Democrat operatives are openly calling for multinational corporations to be weaponized against their political enemies. Corporations are no strangers to doing the bidding of the left, last year over 200 companies including PayPal, Microsoft, Uber, and Under Armour signed a joint statement condemning Republican election reform efforts in Texas, Georgia, and other states.
Major League Baseball took matters a step further and moved last year’s All-Star game out of the city of Atlanta in response to a voting reform law passed by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. Atlanta would have the last laugh as the Braves won last year’s World Series in spite of the move.
Woke corporatism has been an effective weapon for the left but that doesn’t mean every corporation is looking to become political pawns for progressives.
Some CEOs within major companies are now fearing the reality of facing progressive opposition that could force them to take unpopular stances alienating their consumers much as Disney did.
With Disney’s stock down 28% since January making it the worst-performing Dow stock, executives and their advisers are now raising concerns about how they can prevent being put in the same position.
Bill George, former chairman and CEO of Medtronic PLC told The Wall Street Journal “The No. 1 concern CEOs have is, ‘When should I speak out on public issues?”
He continues, “As one CEO said to me, ‘I want to speak out on social issues, but I don’t want to get involved in politics.’ Which I said under my breath, ‘That’s not possible.’”
The corporations’ fear is that if they refuse to side with progressives, it will cause a PR nightmare among progressive friendly media and possibly cause a left-wing revolt within their own company.
The downside is that siding with the left-wing mob could cause them to sustain massive losses for their shareholders and drive customers away.
What are your thoughts on corporations putting themselves in the front line of the culture wars?