Sector News

Why companies must take a stand on racism and social issues, according to a Fortune 500 CEO

July 13, 2020
Borderless Leadership

In a departure from the historical norm, under which companies abstained from commenting on socio-political issues lest they alienate consumers, corporations spoke out one after the other against racism, and in some cases against police brutality, following the death of George Floyd in May.

They did so in part out of necessity, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins told the audience during Fortune‘s virtual Brainstorm Health conference on Wednesday.

“Frankly, society is calling on us to actually stand up, take positions and be more vocal than we were in the past,” said Robbins. “So I don’t think we have a choice.”

Robbins put out what was perhaps among the most visceral of corporate statements after Floyd, a Black man, died when a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. The CEO called the incident “maddening” and “truly abhorrent.” Citigroup chief financial officer Mark Mason—among Wall Street’s highest-ranking black executives—published a blog post that repeated Floyd’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” 10 times.

Since then, other companies have been criticized for not taking more forceful stances. Social media company Facebook has dealt with protests from employees and boycotts from advertisers after it decided not to take action against a series of controversial posts from President Trump, including one whose language echoed racist rhetoric from the 1960s.

“I think that the business community stepping into issues like police reform and focusing on our Black communities,” Robbins said Wednesday. “The CEOs, particularly the ones that I engage with in the U.S., are super involved in these social issues. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to make hard decisions. It just means you have to have consideration for all your stakeholders.”

By: Lucinda Shen

Source: Fortune

comments closed

Related News

June 24, 2022

Supporting your team when the news is terrible

Borderless Leadership

Trying to figure out a path forward, let alone focus on getting work done, in the face of a continuous stream of devastating news can feel impossible. Chances are that your team is feeling a host of emotions, from anger to despair to helplessness.

June 19, 2022

How to overcome imposter syndrome and tame your inner critic

Borderless Leadership

How do you deal with your inner critic? Everyone has one, but the difference between those who are successful and those who are not often connects back to whether or not their inner critic stops them from pursuing their hopes and dreams.

June 11, 2022

Today’s CEOs don’t just lead companies. They lead ecosystems.

Borderless Leadership

Today’s CEOs are operating in a new landscape, with society and business becoming more intertwined and a broader group of stakeholders registering their expectations and demands. In order to succeed, they must become a different kind of leader, looking beyond the company they steward to shape the ecosystem in which they operate.