Public outcry grew quickly as news broke about Georgia’s voting law upheaval earlier this year, and many major American corporations grabbed headlines by joining the fray. Several companies were quick to condemn the passing of the bill, though some key players remained on the sidelines rather than try their hand at brand activism. This begs the question: Do companies have an obligation to weigh in on socio-political issues? And furthermore, does it affect their profitability? If so, how?
The Origins of Corporate Brand Activism
Brand activism grew out of the practice of Photo Editing Services corporate social responsibility; the idea that companies should do what they can to better society and play a positive role in their communities. Classic corporate responsibility is generally apolitical, cultivating an image of an engaged organization, outwardly supportive of non-controversial groups and causes.
Brand activism has proven more divisive, however, as corporations have courted controversy in recent years over issues that may not even be directly related to the business itself. Heavily politicized societal issues are precarious terrain for businesses, and they are made all the more difficult by increasing social pressure to take a side. Standing up and endorsing one view can alienate a whole group of people, who may include the company’s target market or key investors. This is where navigating brand activism becomes so challenging.
What do consumers expect from businesses?
Research in this area is growing and points to the fact that consumers do expect businesses to speak out on societal problems. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer study shows that 86% of consumers expect CEOs to address societal challenges. They don’t just want a statement, either. The majority of consumers expect CEOs to actively support societal issues that the government doesn’t address, believing that CEO’s should take the lead rather than waiting for government direction.