A good balance of business and pleasure is good for companies.
It improves morale and helps reduce employee burnout. However, companies that have chosen to mix business with politics have, in most cases, experienced an adverse effect.
It’s common knowledge that employees shouldn’t discuss politics when they’re on the clock. In attempts to create a safe and respectful corporate environment, human resources discourage such discussions, as not everyone shares the same political ideology. Which begs the question – why do some U.S. companies promote their political affiliations or stances on certain issues?
If history is a past predictor of future events, why would any CEO risk their company’s reputation by affiliating themselves with a specific political party? Knowing the United States is nearly split between republicans and democrats, why would any business gamble on aligning their company with politics, as they’re sure to lose customers who oppose the stance a business should take?
Businesses are learning that when they integrate politics within their corporate structure, it poses a great risk to itself externally as well as internally.
Pepsi’s Call for Acceptance Backfires
Pepsi is the latest victim to face a nationwide backlash.
The multibillion-dollar soda company recently pulled a two-and-a-half-minute commercial starring Kendall Jenner.
It featured Jenner in the middle of a photoshoot when a group of young protesters walks by, which draws her attention. She leaves the shoot and joins the protest, led by what seems to be young high school adolescents or college students. A song by musical artist Skip Marley entitled “Lion” plays in the background.
It’s believed the protest was about the Black Lives Matter and Muslim ban movements. The message was, likely, about taking a stand against Trump who, in liberal’s eyes, is the epitome of hate and racism. Adding to the drama, the scene shifts to a line of policemen blocking the street the protesters are marching.
At the end, the young Kardashian walks up to one of the officers and hands him a Pepsi. He opens and drinks it, with the crowd cheering. Perhaps this was a peace offering of such. Yet, whatever Pepsi’s attempt was, it sparked a firestorm of negative feedback. Therefore, the company pulled the ad and issued an apology.
You can check out the entire video posted on YouTube here.
It seems many businesses are falling victim to the political debacle Pepsi did. Like Target, following former President Barack Obama’s executive order which allowed transgenders to use the bathroom facility of their choice.
Target Became a Target
Back in May of 2016, Target executives announced they were behind former President Barack Obama’s transgender bathroom law.
As half the nation applauded Target’s decision, the other half denounced the retail giant, fearing the potential impact it could have on young children and adult women.
Questions were asked, such as, “Who can determine if someone is truly transgender? What if their intent is to do harm inside women’s facilities? What about the idea of a man molesting a young girl inside woman’s public bathroom?”
The liberal elite responded to those claims, stating a male pedophile already has access to men’s bathrooms where boys go. Therefore, it doesn’t solve the issue of men entering women’s bathrooms to carry out an evil act against a child or adult woman. What supporters didn’t take into consideration was the idea that, when it comes to a virus, you try to contain it, not give it more territory to inflict others.
Target not only suffered a backlash from angry parents, but an online petition was sent around the internet demanding Target require people to use the bathrooms according to their biology, not their feelings.
At first, store officials assumed it would not last long and everyone would simply move on. Well, former customers are still holding their ground to this day.
In fact, Target’s stocks took a 35% hit, halting any future expansion projects.
Not too long ago, the CEO made claims he was, supposedly, out of the loop on the marketing decision. He went on to say that it was not thought out and he would never have approved it going out to the public.
Whether this is an attempt at damage repair or not, unfortunately, the damage is done.
It will take a while before Target sees an increase in their sales. Hopefully, they will learn from this experience and choose to remain neutral going forward.
Not So Funny
When businesses decide to take a stance on a specific issue, they’re essentially inviting trouble. Not only in the corporate America, but even in the world of entertainment.
Take the ever-so-popular, foul-mouth comedian Amy Schumer.
In October of 2016, during a performance in Florida, she invited a Trump supporter on stage intending to embarrass him for supporting Trump. Now keep in mind, the man was an audience member who purchased tickets to her show to be entertained. Neither he nor the audience came to the show to hear her political beliefs.
Schumer’s attempts to ‘put him in his place’ backfired as 200 audience members left her show.
Of course, she’ll confidently say she could give a …. well, you know. In actuality, she needs to remember her fan base is made up of a variety of political affiliations who attend her performances to laugh, not hear her stances on social or political issues.
Regardless what the profession is, when a company enters the political ring, they sometimes forget that their target audience likes what they’re selling, not preaching.
Trouble From Within
Companies need to consider their employees too.
When a business decides to mix with politics, not all employees will be on board. A position which opposes a worker’s political beliefs can be viewed as a slap in the face. To express their opposition could lead to dismissal from the company.
Those in agreement are allowed to talk freely about their support for the company’s position, while those opposed endure the comments from their political foes.
It’s a scenario which creates hostility in the workplace. Plus, employees who want to advance in a company may feel they’re obligated to attend events the company sponsors which may contradict their beliefs. So if an employee opposes abortion, a company’s support for Planned Parenthood will make them feel uncomfortable if forced to promote it.
Not only will some consumers turn on a business for promoting their affiliation, a company will also feel the internal impact of employees not working up to their potential or leaving the company.
Both which impact the bottom line.
In summary, this past election has sparked a lot of hostility between Republicans and Democrats.
It was even more evident when liberals took to the streets in violent protests. Therefore, to show support for a candidate, or take a side on a hot-button issue, could lead to business suicide – not only with customers and clients, but within from employees with opposing viewpoints.
It’s always best to avoid affiliating yourself with any form of politics and focus on the reasons why your customers, especially the loyal ones, choose you over your competitors. Again, it’s about what a business is selling, not what their political stances are.