Over the years, we’ve seen more stakeholders demand companies participate in political conversations – some even calling companies the fourth branch of government. Our research confirms this trend with, 64 percent of Americans stating they believe businesses should speak out against government legislation if it doesn’t align with their company’s values. This past week, we’ve seen these stakeholder demands unfold in real time as brands respond to the recent passing of Texas Senate Bill 8 or the “heartbeat bill.” Today we examine how three brands are reacting to the latest abortion law as they lean-in on their values to guide them for quick decision making.
- Lyft was one of the first companies to respond to the Bill’s passing by announcing they would cover 100 percent of legal fees a driver incurs if they are sued under the new law. Co-founders of the ride share company, Logan Green and John Zimmer, explain why the brand took such swift and pointed action by describing the law as “incompatible with people’s basic rights to privacy, our community guidelines, the spirit of rideshare, and our values as a company.” It is not a surprise that Lyft is engaging in this way as it has worked with the ACLU in the past to protect the rights of its workers and community.
- CEO of dating app, Bumble, also spoke out against the law and said the company will create a fund in support of women and people across the gender spectrum who seek reproductive options in Texas. The female-centered company has been on the front lines of politically charged conversations in the past from helping pass local laws, focusing on employee mental health and committing to supporting Black Lives Matter. The Texas based brand reiterated its stance and commitment to its values by tweeting “from day one we’ve stood up for the most vulnerable. We’ll keep fighting against regressive laws like #SB8.”
- In contrast to these examples, the CEO of Tripwire Interactive, John Gibson, was ousted 53 hours after tweeting a personal opinion that was in opposition to the brand’s principles. The gaming company released a statement saying Gibson’s “comments disregarded the values of our whole team, our partners and much of our broader community.” Tripwire announced it has already appointed co-founding member and current Vice President, Alan Wilson, as interim CEO quoting his understanding of the company’s values and support of other Tripwires leaders.
With almost half of Americans saying they want to hear company leaders speak out on political issues, it is getting harder for brands to stay silent. The reason companies, like today’s examples, can enter divisive conversations on hot-button topics is because they were able to tap into their values and purpose to quickly and confidently make decisions on speaking out. While it isn’t easy to enter conversations like the one today, brands that stay true to their values and in alignment with their stakeholders, are able to navigate difficult waters around government policy with greater ease.