Monday, March 5, 2018

Corporate America Resists Trump and Embraces Sustainability

Corporations have the power to resist the most powerful office in the land and they are beginning to bring that power to bear. They are tackling some of the most urgent problems of our times including pressing social issues and daunting environmental threats.

Climate concerns are at the leading edge of resistance to Trump and corporations are at the forefront. Sustainability leaders are coming to understand that they cannot afford to ignore the elephant in the room they must resist. In the era of Trump sustainability matters more than ever. There are a large and growing number of companies that are making the case against Trump by taking sustainability to new heights. Sustainability is both a bulwark against this administration and a pro-social form of protest that refutes much of what Trump stands for.


CEOs cannot afford to remain silent. This is particularly true of consumer-facing brands. Failing to act puts them in league with values that their customers do not share and standing up to gross injustice may offer a competitive advantage. This point is dramatically illustrated in corporate America's abandonment of the NRA. Delta has come under a lot of political pressure for being one of the more than 20 companies that are cutting ties with the NRA. Rather than capitulate Delta said that they are not acting for economic gain and they emphasized that will continue to resist organizations that are divisive.

No one is more divisive than the US commander and chief except perhaps his helpmate Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Trump may have delivered tax cuts but his ruinous reign threatens to overheat the economy. Worse still he is dismantling institutions that are vital to planetary health and democracy itself. Silence makes us complicit in Trump's efforts to unravel the fabric of basic decency.

In the last year we have seen unprecedented levels of corporate responsibility that includes speaking truth to the pinnacles of power. Corporations are resisting Trump's dysfunctional style of governance. Companies like Patagonia have been leading for decades and they recently upped the ante by called the Trump administration an "evil" regime.

Business leaders are decying the irrationality of Trump's looming trade war. CEOs openly oppose the president while supporting sustainability and publicly condemning both his comments and his actions. In the wake of Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement CEOs spoke out, and Trump's support of Nazis in Charlottesville was met with a wave of condemnation and resignations.

In 2017 corporate climate efforts formed the crest of a wave of corporate goodness. While Trump lies incessantly business people do not have the luxury of alternative facts, particularly as it relates to climate change.

"People in the US business community know that climate change is a serious issue and that international engagements are important," said Frank Maisano, senior principal at Bracewell, a law and government relations firm serving the energy industry.

Although Trump has tried to define himself as pro-business, the fact that he seems to reside in an alternate reality causes many to see him as both a liability and a risk factor. Without resorting to the base vitriol that defines the president, corporate America has rejected Trump's ignorance.

Businesses not moved by conscience to resist may be moved by self-interest. Shortly after Trump was inaugurated we began to see boycotts of retailers that do business with the Trump family. It succeeded in getting retailers like Nordstrom, Jet.com, and Gilt to stop selling products owned by the first family. Now grabyourwallet is focusing on 27 retail brands that continue to sell Trump products (some of these stores have stopped selling Donald's bric-a-brac but continue to carry Ivanka's). Here is the complete list:

Bloomingdales, Zappos, Amazon and Whole Foods, Hudson's Bay, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Winners, Lord & Taylor, Bed Bath & Beyond and Buy Buy Baby,Dillard's, DSW,Bluefly, Burlington Coat Factory, HSN, Overstock.com, Ross,Saks Off Fifth, Walmart, Belk, Century 21, Bon-Ton, Carson's, and Elder-Beerman, Build.com, Filene's Basement, Heels.com, Wegmans, Perfumania and Stein Mart.

These boycotts can have a dramatic impact. As reported by Moneyish, the #GrabYourWallet boycott of Trump brands have led retailers to drop more than 3,600 Trump family products.

Corporate America may not have gone looking for this fight, but they have proven that when they work together they are a force to be reckoned with.

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