Companies can no longer afford to be silent


Let’s cut to the chase: Shit is cray. 

Since the inauguration I’ve been glued to my phone and TV screens afraid I’ll miss a new development if I blinked too fast. I’ve been frustrated and angry. I’ve also felt inspired and encouraged by the responses from the people in my community, across the country, and around the world to the hateful and destructive decisions in Washington, DC.

But I’ve also been left wondering what companies are doing to influence the administration... which side of history they’re choosing to stand on right now. This newsletter is the beginning of what I hope to be a broader effort to capture this point in history when companies can no longer afford to be silent. 

Their actions have never been without consequences, however we have an opportunity to shine a brighter spotlight on the companies who fail to protect—or at least prove to be conscious of—their employees, stakeholders and society at large.

So let's do this. You with me?

Nikita T. Mitchell

P.S. If you have thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams to share about this project please hit reply and send them my way!

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Yes, that's the actual cover of Bloomberg Businessweek. But even more hilarious, you can make your own executive order meme here!

Uber recently found itself in the midst of a successful #DeleteUber campaign. It all played out dramatically like a telenovela with over 200,000 accounts deleted, Lyft swooping in with a public relations win about their $1 million donation to the ACLU and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick eventually announcing his resignation from Trump's economic advisory council. (On the other hand, Elon Musk of Tesla made it clear he's not resigning. SHOCKING.)

Uber C.E.O. to Leave Trump Advisory Council After Criticism
Elon Musk Will Stay On Trump’s Advisory Groups For "The Greater Good"
#DeleteUber? Trump ban stirs Lyft to ACLU donation as Uber takes heat

While slightly less dramatic and much slower of a development, Nordstrom announced that it is dropping Ivanka Trump's brand due to lagging sales. Looks like the #GrabYourWallet boycott has a major win under its belt. 

Nordstrom Has Dropped Ivanka Trump’s Brand, Citing Lagging Sales

The acting SEC Chair is working to delay the implementation of a rule requiring public companies to disclose the ratio of its CEO's pay to its median workforce. Companies are being asked to share "unexpected challenges" they're experiencing in an effort to comply. (Because apparently analyzing data is hard for public corporations now.) No companies have made any public statements yet, but I'll certainly be paying attention.

Acting SEC Chair takes aim at Dodd-Frank CEO pay ratio rule

The spotlight is back on Google's diversity efforts. Despite investing over $265 million over the past two years, the company didn't move the needle with black employees (2%). You might remember that Google was recently in the news on this same topic because the US Department of Labor announced a lawsuit against Google for not providing compensation data. We'll have to keep watching to see how this plays out in 2017.

Google's Hardest Moonshot: Debugging Its Race Problem  

Uber and Flipboard are among tech companies already publicly declaring they will oppose an Anti-LGBT Executive Order rumored to be forthcoming. Other companies, unnamed of course, are "monitoring these developments before weighing in."
Tech Ready to Oppose Trump on Reported Anti-LGBT Executive Order

Ben and Jerry's leadership is very vocal about its commitment to fighting for social justice issues, most recently with voter suppression in North Carolina. CEO Jostein Solheim says, "We’re a social justice company that happens to sell ice cream. Not the other way around."

Why Ben And Jerry's CEO Pushes His Company To Merge Ice Cream And Social Justice

It's a new world for CEOs. Corporate leaders, regardless of their politics, are experiencing a new dynamic. Whether it's that they feel compelled to speak out more because of the explicit phobia ism soup we're being served these days or that they're feeling greater pressure from employees and customers, it's increasingly clear that silence is loud—not to mention potentially harmful for the bottom line.

And I'm SO here for it.

On one hand you have companies like the ones who showed up to the White House Jobs Summit. CEOs of Merck, Novartis, Eli Lilly, Johnson and Johnson were among those eager to impress Trump by emphasizing—as this "CEO cheat sheet" describes—their history in the United States, domestic manufacturing jobs and other buzzwords I suppose they felt would bring them favor.

On the other hand you have companies very publicly condemning Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings quickly released a strong statement against the order. Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz vowed to hire 10,000 refugees. Lyft pledged to donate $1 million to the ACLU over the next four years. 130 tech companies signed the amici curiae (friends of the court) brief, and—according to this awesome tracker—almost 300 companies have made public statements against it. (Much to my disappointment, my company Cisco has not.)

Only time will tell if this increased level of public engagement in politics by companies is here to stay, but it's clear that executives are paying attention and—as we saw with this year's Super Bowl commercials—marketing departments are certainly taking advantage of it.

I'm also here for that.

We could debate all day about whether or not "a seat at the table" is the best approach for standing up to the administration. Either way you should be informed about who the members of Trump's business advisory council are:

  • Stephen A. Schwarzman (Forum Chairman), Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder ofBlackstone
  • Paul Atkins, CEO, Patomak Global Partners, LLC, Former Commissioner of the SEC
  • Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, General Motors
  • Toby Cosgrove, CEO, Cleveland Clinic
  • Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase
  • Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO, BlackRock
  • Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company
  • Rich Lesser, President and CEO, Boston Consulting Group
  • Doug McMillon, President and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
  • Jim McNerney, Former Chairman, President, and CEO, Boeing
  • Elon Musk, Chairman and CEO, SpaceX and Tesla
  • Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo
  • Adebayo “Bayo” Ogunlesi, Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners
  • Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President, and CEO, IBM
  • Mark Weinberger, Global Chairman and CEO, EY
  • Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO, General Electric
  • Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winner, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit
  • Kevin Warsh, Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics, Hoover Institute, Former Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System


“Let this be a warning: if you are a corporation who thinks you will ride out Trump, and quietly make money at his side, you will be made to pay a price.”

- Dan O’Sullivan (1st to tweet #DeleteUber)


Nikita T. Mitchell