[Issue 053] How companies supported #MarchforOurLives
It has been six weeks since the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting (in Parkland, Florida), and it's the first time we have had such a sustained dialogue about mass shootings in the US. For this sad yet hopeful fact, we have the Parkland students to thank.
Most impressively, this past weekend they stood side by side with students who continue to be impacted by gun violence around the country and in front of hundreds of thousands of protestors to say enough is enough.
Even before the March these students changed the way we discuss mass shootings, much of which we've watched play out in Corporate America.
The first wave of impact started with the decision by First National Bank of Omaha to stop offering NRA branded Visa cards to NRA members. The wave continued as companies like Delta decided to revoke discounts to NRA members, even when faced with significant backlash.
Retailers were next with Dick's Sporting Goods deciding to stop selling assault rifles and high-capacity magazines at all of its stores, followed by a decision by Walmart to also limit sales to buyers over 21.
Support didn't stop there, surprisingly. Companies have continued to stand with the Parkland students.
Last month Gucci was one of the first to announce financial support for the March. Having lost an employee in the Orlando shooting in June 2016, the company's $500,000 donation seemed as political as it was personal.
Viacom also donated $500,000 and provided live coverage of the event. Bumble, the dating app with nearly 30 million users, donated $100,000 and subsequently announced a ban on images of firearms. Other companies like Lyft and Shake Shack showed their support for the march by offering free or discounted goods and services to participants.
Then last Thursday, just days before March For Our Lives, Citigroup became the first major Wall Street bank to take a stance.
It's new policy requires retailers to restrict guns sales to anyone under 21, run background checks and not sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines. CEO Michael L. Corbat, who refers to himself as “an avid outdoorsman and responsible gun owner” said that the company has received an even more positive reaction that he expected.
It's unclear how much of an impact this decision will have on Citi's bottom line, however, which led me down a reseach rabbit hole that resulted in my discovering that Wells Fargo's relationship with the NRA and gun industry runs deep.
Now there's a bank that could affect meaningful change. (But I won't hold my breath.)
So what's next?
I hope that the Parkland students and other youth around the country can keep this conversation going through the 2018 elections. I also hope that companies continue to play a role in the conversation.
As strange as it is to say: I especially have high hopes for financial institutions making an impact. While I may not be holding my breath for Wells Fargo to take a stance, I have been impressed by another institution: BlackRock.
Back in January the CEO shared his expectation that the companies they invest in be prepared to share how they make "a positive contribution to society."
After the Parkland shooting the BlackRock website was updated with an outline of their approach to engaging with firearms manufacturers and retailers. It's the most detailed and transparent approach to handling this issue that I've seen. (It's in plain language too!)
I not only look forward to following how companies continue to address this issue but also how response like the ones we've seen so far have an impact on important issues in the future.
Here are a few of my favorite photos from Saturday (and a beautiful reminder that the kids are alright):
Facebook Has Had Countless Privacy Scandals. But This One Is Different. A damn good read exploring what the Cambridge Analytica situation means for the way we think about data privacy going forward. // BUZZFEED
Cutting 'Old Heads' at IBM. A deep dive into age discrimination accusations at "once-dominant" tech companies like IBM (and my employer, Cisco) that are in the midst of transitions. // PROPUBLICA
The Cost of Taking a Stand. As leaders of public companies continue to speak out, what happens to the stock? This article tries to find the answer. // HBR
India Inc is now willing to pay more to fix its gender diversity problem. I read this and was left wondering, as I always am, if these companies are really taking the issue seriously or just looking for quick fixes. // QUARTZ
Filed under: Laugh to Keep from Crying...
People were asked to name women tech leaders. They said “Alexa” and “Siri.” The headline is slightly sensationalist because only a small subset of the group survey responded that way, but even that was too many. Also, 91.7% couldn't even think of a name. // FAST COMPANY
"This is not a politically driven decision, nor a decision driven by hatred of people’s personal beliefs or choices. Not everyone’s going to love us for it, but it’s the right thing to do."
- Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder and CEO of Bumble, on her decision to ban images of guns on the dating app