Filling a perceived moral vacuum in Washington, CEOs warned of threats to democracy and announced commitments aimed at addressing racial inequality. Many made it clear publicly where they stood on Trump’s approach to the climate crisis and immigration.
There is a new administration in the White House, and on a number of political fronts, President Joe Biden and Corporate America are closer to each other. But when it comes to the role their companies play in society, business executives should not go back to their old ways.
“[This] becomes an opportunity to continue that self-reflection, ”said Deepak Malhotra, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.
Why it matters: The public increasingly trusts companies to make the right calls on political and social issues. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer from 2021
Following the uprising of Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol, a survey of 40 executives by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of the Yale School of Management found that 96% of respondents believed Trump should be charged and removed from office.
These same leaders now have a role to play as the prosecution process unfolds, Sonnenfeld told me. The trial in the Senate is scheduled to begin on February 9.
“I think they should formally and informally continue to push for accountability,” Sonnenfeld said. “Our system of government is very much the reason for their business success – and they know it.”
Then there are the looming debates on topics such as climate. Over the past four years, companies have become accustomed to asserting the mantle of leadership as the Trump administration is liberated.
“The business suddenly surpassed the government by a large margin,” Malhotra said.
A given: Businesses will be forced to continue to actively engage in social issues simply because of changing consumer tastes. As was made clear after the police assassination of George Floyd last summer, which led millions of protesters out, younger customers are increasingly demanding that the brands they support back, like Black Lives Matter; workers ask the same about their employers.
“Companies were forced to reckon with these issues, not specifically because of President Trump, but because of what was happening on the streets and in communities and in their own workforce,” Malhotra said.
See this space: Normally, the role of companies in society will be discussed over the next week in the Swiss Alps when leaders gather at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This year, not surprisingly, the January issue of WEF is a completely digital affair, although the group hopes to hold a personal event in Singapore this summer.
Talks on the subject with executives such as BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff continue. Keep an eye on Before the Bell for highlights.
Is Apple’s 5G iPhone Selling? We’re figuring it out
Wall Street has been counting on the speed of iPhone 12 sales to overload Apple’s earnings. This week, investors are learning whether such predictions will come true.
Apple reports earnings after U.S. markets closed Wednesday. Given the company’s 75% share price increase over the past year – partly due to expectations of wild iPhone 12 sales – it will be a major market event.
Much depends on demand from China, according to Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives, who puts any comments on the country’s economic comeback in focus.
“China remains a key ingredient in Apple’s recipe for success, as we estimate that approximately 20% of iPhone upgrades will come from this region in the coming year,” Ives said in a recent note to clients.