More companies should take a stand in the age of Trump
The morning after the election one year ago, I shared the same sense of dread that parents, teachers and so many business leaders experienced: I feared for the future of our country. But more immediately, I worried about reassuring those who looked to me for leadership. As the CEO of a company with progressive advocacy and philanthropy at the core of its business, I knew my team would want to know how we would respond. How would we lift our team’s spirits, convince them that they could still make a difference and give them a reason to continue fighting for what they believe in when Donald Trump’s victory seemed to represent such a profound rejection of those values?
So one year after the most surprising and troubling election of my lifetime, I still ask myself: What more can I do to continue the fight? There’s only so much the head of one company can do to help lead this resistance, so we implore more businesses to step up and do the right thing along with us.
More than ever before, Americans are demanding moral leadership from the business sector and choosing to support companies that share their values. Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey found that 80 percent of millennials consider themselves activists, and 76 percent believe that business can be a force for positive social change.
As corporate leaders, one way we must lead is by not remaining silent in the face of the racist and unstable actions taken by the Trump administration. Anything less amounts to complicity — a complicity for a regime that wants to turn back the clock to a time when women, people of color and the LGBTQ community had few, if any, rights; a complicity to allow the wealthiest few at the very top, including Trump himself, to continue to enrich themselves by forcing the middle class and poor to suffer even more; and a complicity that could lead us to the brink of a nuclear war.
The company I lead, CREDO Mobile, has over three decades of experience fighting for progressive change, and we’ve never had to be reactive to consumer sentiment. We’ve always been at the forefront of progressive fights, and we’re certainly not pulling any punches now. We’re attacking the Trump agenda on all sides by supporting progressive organizations like Planned Parenthood, the ACLU and Earthjustice. Our activism arm, CREDO Action, has been relentlessly mobilizing our 5 million activists to resist the Trump agenda. We’ve publicly announced our support for Planned Parenthood’s #BusinessForBC campaign, which reaffirms our corporate commitment to providing our employees with no-cost birth control. And we’ve added our voice to many progressive fights through numerous “friend of the court” briefs, including one in support of Gavin Grimm, a transgender student in North Carolina facing discrimination.
We know we’re not alone as other CEOs are also finding this fight worthwhile. Patagonia has been actively building grassroots resistance to the assault on our public lands. Key actors from Silicon Valley have spoken out against the Muslim ban. Prominent CEOs have quit Trump’s business councils under pressure from CREDO, and some went to bat for refugees in the face of the administration’s bigoted policies.
Not every company can or should follow our lead by investing in a team of progressive organizers or making funding progressive causes a foundation of doing business. But corporate leaders must speak up more and more often, not only when it’s politically expedient or good for the bottom line. Companies that want to do right by their customers and the American public must stop advertising on pro-Trump propaganda hate sites like Breitbart. They must take a stand every time the administration cracks down on immigrants, not only when it affects their workforce. They should never provide the government with technology that allows it to build a Muslim registry or rig the system to prevent minorities from voting.
The resistance is working. As a result of our support, we’ve helped progressives across the country apply massive pressure on elected officials. Our collective strength has stalled multiple attempts to take away health care from millions. We’re helping to protect our public lands and national monuments and parks. We pressured CEOs to step down from Trump’s business councils from day. And we helped to remove two prominent white supremacists, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, from the White House.
This isn’t just about being on the right side of history. This is about doing what’s right, right now. I hope other business leaders join me in the fight. The future of our country depends on it.
Ray Morris is CEO of CREDO Mobile.