CEO activism spreading….

June 24, 2015

CEO activism spreading….

It seems that CEOs are inching towards the deeper end of the CEO activism spectrum. In my last post, I mentioned the emergence of this slow-boil trend but this was before the recent tragic event in the US that has prodded several CEOs to call for the removal of the Confederate flag over the South Carolina capitol. We are seeing some Fortune 500 company CEOs ban selling the flag on their premises or online.

Fortune recently surveyed Fortune 500 CEOs about their agreement with the following statements below and here is what they found. Over one-half (52%) said it is important to take a stand on some hot-button public issues relative to somewhat fewer (48%) who say it is best to stick to profit first. Essentially it’s a complete divide. As you know from my last post, executives in our CEO reputation study cautioned against the appropriateness of taking a stand on political or policy issues by a wider margin.

As a CEO, it’s best to focus on issues that directly affect the bottom line, and avoid controversial public issues.


As a CEO, it’s important to take a stand on some public issues.

I just returned from some markets in Asia Pacific and when I mentioned this growing trend on CEO activism, I did not get the sense that this pattern was as much of an issue. My sense is that company leaders in the US do not feel that the government will step in (due to polarization) and therefore they need to be more proactive about taking a stand on these types of issues.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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