Friday, November 24, 2017

Corporations Offering Hope this Unhappy Thanksgiving

The Trump administration and the GOP give Americans no reason to be happy this Thanksgiving. Resistance from citizens and corporate leaders offer a shining ray of hope in an otherwise bleak picture. America's greatness is now being systematically dismantled. Its institutions, its democracy, and its moral center are under siege. What makes this enemy especially pernicious is the fact that unlike previous adversaries, this threat comes from within Congress and the Oval Office itself. While nobody was listening Trump's former chief strategy advisor Steve Bannon made it clear that the goal of this administration is the deconstruction of government. Even though Bannon has been pushed out his influence remains.


Numerous government agencies and departments have been reduced to a shadow of their former selves. This includes agencies like the EPA under Scott Pruitt.  Along with Trump and the GOP, Pruitt is working to end climate action and erode environmental protections.

The State Department under Rex Tillerson has stepped back from international agreements including the Paris Climate Accord.  A number of leading corporations urged Trump to stay with the Paris Agreement and then they condemned him when he withdrew. At COP23 in November it became clear that Trump is irrelevant. Companies, governors and mayors stepped in to represent the US in the wake of Trump's abdication.

Russia's influence over Trump may be the most serious concern. Despite the clear consensus from American intelligence agencies Trump refuses to accept, let alone condemn Russia for influencing the 2016 election. There is evidence to support the allegation that the Trump team conspired with Russia to win the election.  Even more troubling are allegations that Trump won't cross Putin because of Kompromat.

While Trump casts a dark shadow over the nation and the world, there are some signs that give us reason to hope. Corporate leaders are publicly refuting Trump's climate ignorance. Several CEOs called him out for defending racists. Others have criticized him for his lack of understanding of business. CEOs like sustainability titan Elon Musk have said that Trump is bad for business.

To be fair it should be said that corporate leaders resist Trump as a matter of self interest. Trump is not just temperamentally and intellectually unfit for office he is dangerously incompetent. CEOs and investors cannot afford to ignore the fact that Trump is a serious risk factor.

Businesses continued to act on climate change even as a climate denier assumed control of the White House. Soon after Trump came to power corporate leaders began to redouble their efforts to advocate for sustainability and oppose the newly elected administration. A number of businesses across the US stood up in support of sustainability while rejecting Trump. 

Despite Trump's climate denial, companies all across the US are integrating environmental, social and governance practices into their core business strategies.  They are also adopting renewable energy in ever increasing numbers.

Corporations like Target and U.S. Bank are leading by example. Both companies have earned a spot in Ceres Business Network for improving the climate resiliency of their operations and their supply chains.  In stark contrast to Trump's support for fossil fuels, many of these companies are massively ramping up their use of renewable energy.

Corporation are doing more than just showing business leadership they are taking on some of the responsibilities of government. In the face of Trump's inaction after Hurricane Maria, corporations including Tesla, reached out to help the people of Puerto Rico.

In the context of the current administration sharing sustainability matters more than ever.  Business leaders must ask themselves which side they are on even though there really aren't two sides to this issue. Like climate change, there are those that accept the facts and those that don't. This is not about dividing America, this is about uniting them against a common enemy.

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