You Didn’t Learn This in Business School

By Daryl Brewster, CEO, CECP
Jun 1, 2018 10:15 AM ET
Campaign: CECP Insights Blog

As Originally Featured on CECP's Insights Blog

Few of today’s CEOs earned their job because they were socially responsible and spoke out on hot topics. Yet key stakeholders increasingly want to know where companies and CEOs stand on critical social issues. It might be argued that speaking out is becoming a 21st-century requirement for the leaders of major companies.

Data confirms a shift in expectations from the public: research from Weber Shandwick indicates that 47% of Millennials believe CEOs have a responsibility to speak up about issues that are important to society [emphasis added]. And the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer also suggests that CEOs, as a whole, have been “rewarded” for speaking out on issues, seeing CEO credibility levels among the general population rise from 33% in 2017 to 44% in 2018 while trust in media, government, and even non-profits declined.

CECP: The Corporate Force for Good, counsels that is in the best interests of leading CEOs to support a safe, inclusive, and well-run society. CECP, building on the work of Chatterji and Toffel, has developed a framework through which CEOs and their teams can assess why, when, and how to take positions on social issues, identifying three areas and accompanying questions for CEOs and their teams to consider.


  • What are your company’s Purpose and Values?
  • What issues matter to your company and its stakeholders?

What are your company’s Purpose and Values?

When speaking out after Charlottesville, Merck CEO Ken Frazier said, “The most important role of a leader is to safeguard the heritage and values of the company.” CEOs and their teams must determine if an issue intersects with corporate values and how the brand lives those beliefs on a day-to-day basis.

Patagonia is an oft-cited example of effective corporate advocacy, taking political positions on environmental issues with support from their stakeholders. Many feel their success is directly linked with their core business values and the issues they support.

What issues matter to your company and its stakeholders?

We hear daily about a range issues surfacing in the global debate: race and racism, diversity, inclusion, gender equality, gender identity, gender and sexual violence, marriage equality, immigration, poverty, gun control, climate change, abortion, and religion freedoms. Take time to review how your company would respond to top issues in the news and identify which ones matter most, particularly in the context of corporate purpose, values, stakeholders, and business operations.

Continue reading at