- More than 180 company heads have together publicly opposed new state laws and regulations banning abortions and blocking other access to reproductive healthcare, according to a CNBC report. The CEOs, many from high-profile corporations, expressed their opposition in a letter that appeared as a full-page ad in Monday's New York Times.
- The letter comes weeks after Alabama passed what has been called the country's most restrictive anti-abortion legislation. The executives said they wanted to send a message that anti-abortion legislation inhibits their "ability to build diverse and inclusive workforce pipelines, recruit top talent across the states, and protect the well-being of all the people who keep our businesses thriving day in and day out," CNBC said."
- Joey Bergstein, Seventh Generation's CEO, said it's time for executives to speak up about social issues and use their voices for important issues, and added: "companies and businesses can and must be a force for good."
Monday's letter is just the latest in a series of causes corporations have supported. Axios noted that Amazon and eBay banned firearms sales on their platforms; Shopify stopped providing its software to sellers of semi-automatic firearms and silencers; and PayPal, the NCAA, Bank of America and others companies forced North Carolina to rescind its "bathroom bill."
Companies are engaging in causes for many reasons, including pressure from consumers, employees and other stakeholders. A 2018 Metlife poll found that 70% of employees believe employers should address society's problems — a sentiment that increased from 63% in 2017. Social conscientiousness is reportedly strong among Gen Zers and millennials, who engage in more workplace activism.
Workers are value-driven, Sam Stern, principal analyst at Forrester, previously told HR Dive. He said that not only are employees and applicants aware of an employer's advertising campaigns and brand messaging, but that they're also aware of an employer's charitable giving and how it treats its partners and contractors. In short, people want to their employers to share their values, Stern said.
Louis Hyman, a historian from Cornell University, told Axios that corporate activism will likely continue. "It has a lot to do with the war for talent," he said. "In an age where the corporate talent is socially liberal, companies that do not take these positions are risking their key assets." Lawrence Keane, SVP of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, however, expressed concern about corporate social conscientiousness. "We are concerned by the rise of boardroom legislation by unelected corporate leaders," he said. "It's particularly troubling when the companies making the decisions have tons of market power."