Lots of Thinking and Perhaps a Committee are Required When Companies Decide to Take Stands

Besides post-pandemic workplace organization, how companies should handle social and political issues just might be the most talked-about topic in C-Suites.

“There is little doubt in my mind,” Alan Murray, CEO of Fortune Media, wrote recently “that historians will look back at the last few years as a significant turning point in the history of business. Most large companies—the Fortune 500—have significantly increased the attention they pay to social and environmental issues, and are more willing to speak out on controversial social and political issues.”

Murray admits critics see companies taking positions as political posturing. But, he believes’ taking stands “reflects a fundamental change in the way businesses are run.”

As evidence, Murray includes comments CEOs made during a recent Fortune virtual roundtable.

“Clearly the business of business is no longer purely business. Our constituents are watching us,” Henry Schein CEO Stan Bergman said.

UnderArmour’s Patrick Fisk said he never expected to address social and political issues when he became CEO. Prior to 2020, had he been asked about taking a stand, he would have said: “‘What are you talking about? I’m here to run a business.’”

On the other hand, Fisk now concurs with a point that FleishmanHillard SVP and new ESG lead Cathy Resler made during an interview with us: the pandemic led corporate leaders to pause and reconsider ESG issues (see p.

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