Opinion

American CEOs Ditching Previous Strategy of Jumping Onto Every Single Tragedy

The 2020 death of George Floyd was the catalyst for more deaths related to, as CNN would call them, ‘mostly peaceful protests,’ the rise of the biggest con of my lifetime— Black Lives Matter, and of course, companies jumping into the virtue signaling deep end to tell us their thoughts.

Fast forward to this year, the brutal beating and killing of Tyre Nichols which everyone seems to universally agree was horrible, has most CEOs opting for ‘no comment.’

Why the change? Could it be a realization that it isn’t good business to lecture customers how they should view various social issues and how they should be solved?

Or perhaps it’s getting schwacked repeatedly for getting it wrong time and time again. Regardless, it’s worth taking a look.

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Then and Now

After the death of George Floyd, Dell Technologies, Merck, and Ford publicly stated their thoughts on police brutality. However, when asked for comment post the murder of Tyre Nichols, the silence was an interesting change.

Back in 2020, the CEO Action Network, which is a collection of 2,400 CEOs, put out a statement that they “pledged to create more inclusive cultures while not being afraid of having difficult conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion.”

That same year during a business roundtable, they also proclaimed “Corporate American cannot sit this one out.”

Their public statement post the death of Mr. Nichols? “No comment.”

I guess they can sit this one out, though. When it’s no longer profitable to feign outrage and sadness over an incident that has nothing to do with their expertise or industry.

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Look at Me! I’m Relevant

When the death of Mr. Floyd happened, if you didn’t make a public statement that had blanket admonishment of law enforcement, acknowledgment of your imagined white privilege, and promises to bend the knee to either the BLM movement or DEI cult you risked being ‘canceled.’ So naturally, the CEOs fell all over themselves to pay homage to the fake idol of BLM under the altar of systemic racism.

Take American Airline’s CEO Doug Parker, who said “Sometimes we convince ourselves, look it’s not really my responsibility as a CEO to opine on this or make a statement on this. Oftentimes you think, well, it’s not going to matter, because who am I to be making comments on this? It does matter.”

No, Doug, it doesn’t matter. What matters is your ability to lead a major airline company. 

“Even though I’m the CFO of a global bank, the killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky are reminders of the dangers black Americans like me face in living our daily lives,” Citigroup CFO Mark Mason chimed in at the time:

Somehow I find it hard to believe that your daily life routines mirror that of Floyd, Arbery, or Taylor. Pretending though that you live the same life as others based solely on your skin color isn’t offensive, it’s just good business.

 

Woke Fails

This round’s silence may be because corporate America realizes that hitching your company mission to the social justice fight du jour is not a sound business decision. We’ve certainly seen this backfire in the entertainment industry.

Take the overhyped homosexual romance-focused movie ‘Bros.’ The film only made about $14 million worldwide. 

The excuse given by those involved with the movie focused on allegations that all of us that opted not to watch it suffer from homophobia. I can tell you I didn’t watch it because it looked bland and forced — like most endeavors focused on pushing narratives versus actual quality stories.

Then you have the Disney movie ‘Strange World’ with an LGBT character that tanked, only taking in $24 million in the first week after having a $180 million budget. Ouch, perhaps it’s Disney’s world that is strange and not ours.

Conversely, other movies and TV shows focused on engaging, exciting, and fun storylines, such as Top Gun Maverick, Terminal List, and Yellowstone, did very well. You can’t tell me that there are just that many homophobes running around the world tipping the scales on entertainment.

I bet there are at least a few homosexuals who enjoyed ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ ‘the Terminal List’ and at least a handful of minorities that enjoy ‘Yellowstone.’ I mean, how could anyone dislike Rip?

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Woke Washing

After the death of George Floyd, Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said “There are few decisions we make that aren’t political — whether it’s access to restrooms, whether it’s what candidate we might support in a particular stand that we’re going to take on an environmental issue — so frankly, I think that comes with the territory.”

While some form of politics manages to find its way into just about any major industry, how much CEOs allow it to steer the ship indicates its success. For example, after the passage of Georgia’s voting law, Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred declared “I have decided that the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport is by relocating this year’s All-Star game and MLB draft.”

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” Manfred announced.

The move cost the city around $100 million in revenue, and the last midterms showed record turnout of all demographics of voters in Georgia. I welcome the recent silence from corporate America on social and political issues.

Injecting language into your marketing and decision-making linked to social and political activism not only appears disingenuous but is embarrassing when you miss the mark. Instead, stick to what you are good at; selling your product and entertaining us. 

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Kathleen J. Anderson

USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts Saint and Artist husband. Writer, lifelong conservative, lover of all things American History, and not-so-secret Ancient Aliens fanatic. Homeschool maven, Masters in Political Management, constitutionalist, and chock full of opinions.

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