Should businesses like Nike, Disney share politics?

Politics

Photo: Ben and Jerry’s

(NewsNation) — In a highly political world, the divide is deepening from Washington to Wall Street. Corporations have found themselves becoming more vocal about their views on political and social issues.

There’s Nike, which has featured Colin Kaepernick, who faced backlash for kneeling during the national anthem to protest social injustice and police brutality, in ads. Ben and Jerry’s has shown support for the Defund the Police movement, which calls for divesting from policing and investing in programs for affordable housing, job training, counseling, education and more, per its website.

The ice cream company has also been outspoken on its views on global issues. Ben and Jerry’s stopped selling ice cream in Israeli settlements last year, saying sales in “Occupied Palestinian Territory” were “inconsistent with our values,” according to the BBC.

Patagonia, an outdoor clothing company, states its views right on its product: it has “Vote the A–holes out” written on its tags.

“The pros of doing this is so that the brands can resonate more with some of their target audiences,” Brand strategist Anthony Miyazaki said on NewsNation’s “Morning in America.” “We tend to like people who think like us, and that positive ethic transfers to brands as well.”

At the same time, those same brands run the risk of alienating members of their target audiences who disagree with their stance.

“It’s kind of a toss-up depending on the company,” Miyazaki said.

This kind of toss-up was seen earlier this year at the Walt Disney Company. At first, its CEO Bob Chapek was criticized heavily by employees for not speaking out fast enough against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill. Also known as the “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” the legislation banned instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Later, when Chapek did express Disney’s “disappointment and concern” over the bill, it led to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signing a law to dissolve Disney’s private government in the state.

Two LGBTQ supporters hold signs to protest Disney’s stance on LGBTQ issues in Glendale, Calif., Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

“20, 30,40 years ago, we didn’t even know who the CEO was,” Miyazaki said. “But now people know because of social media. It’s out there, people see it, it’s the news. And I think once you’re in a high-level position in a company, then it’s almost like you have to either be political, or you have to purposely be apolitical.”

A CNBC survey found that more than half of workers, or 56%, approve of business leaders speaking out about social and political issues. Far fewer people surveyed (32%) said they would back their own company’s leadership, regardless of what they were advocating, however.

Data from the survey showed that women, younger workers and Blacks, Asians and Hispanics are more likely than whites to approve of business leaders who voice their opinions. Above all, though, CNBC noted,the partisan differences were most striking. About 71% of Democrats said they would approve of business leaders talking politics. Just 45% of Republicans felt the same.

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