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The New York Times had a long piece over the weekend about how in a time of divisive political and cultural debate, America’s CEOs are testing their moral voices “more forcefully than ever.”

An excerpt:

“After Nazi-saluting white supremacists rioted in Charlottesville, Va., and President Trump dithered in his response, a chorus of business leaders rose up this past week to condemn hate groups and espouse tolerance and inclusion. And as lawmakers in Texas tried to restrict the rights of transgender people to use public bathrooms, corporate executives joined activists to kill the bill.

“These and other actions are part of a broad recasting of the voice of business in the nation’s political and social dialogue, a transformation that has gained momentum in recent years as the country has engaged in fraught debates over everything from climate change to health care.”

This transformation, the story suggests, “didn’t happen overnight. Chief executives face a constellation of pressures, and speaking up can create considerable uncertainty. Customers can be offended, colleagues can feel isolated and relations with lawmakers can suffer. Words and actions can backfire, resulting in public relations disasters. All this as a chief executive is expected to constantly grow sales.”

In the end, these CEOs decided that while their companies “are naturally designed to be moneymaking enterprises,” events required them to adapt “to meet new social and political expectations in sometimes startling ways.”

You can read the entire story here.
KC's View:
I know that some folks found the events of last week, especially as it related to how CEOs reacted to the events in Charlottesville, to be profoundly annoying. And there will be some folks who will continue to argue that Target’s recent decline began the moment it took what was seen as a “liberal position” on the bathroom and gender identification issue.

But I would argue that while CEOs were making decisions that they believed had moral and ethical considerations, these decisions also had long-term business implications. I think they see a world in which their customer bases are becoming incredibly diverse, in which young people are more tolerant than ever, and in which they need to position their companies (and probably even themselves) for where they see the long-range curve line headed.