Announcements and Calls

What’s behind the current wave of ‘corporate activism’?

Steffen Böhm

Recent years have witnessed the emergence of what appears to be a new breed of business person: the corporate activist. Hardly a week goes past without the head of some blue chip or other publicly agitating for a better world, be they Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, speaking out on the environment and LGBTQI+ rights, or Starbucks founder Howard Schultzbemoaning “the violence, hatred, and empowerment of white supremacists” at a nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review even offered a “CEO activist’s playbook” as a “guide for leaders who are deciding whether to speak out and how”.

A closely allied trend is so-called “brand activism” in which businesses launch carefully designed “social good” campaigns aimed at building awareness about a particular issue while also promoting a positive corporate message. Recent high-profile cases include outdoor clothing firm Patagonia’s “The President Stole…

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