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“Why do business leaders have a political opinion”


Gerald Seib for WSJ:

But if what business leaders are doing in politics is quite clear, why is it more unclear why they entered that field.

In part, this business is simply a sign of the times and of the national environment. In a hyper-politicized environment, people increasingly expect or even demand political positions from everyone – celebrities, sports figures and, yes, business leaders. . The buzz from social media makes it harder to deal with tough political questions.

Corporate resilience expectations are especially high among young Americans, so businesses are feeling pressure from both their young customers and their own employees to stand up. Companies hoping to recruit young, tech-savvy talent know that today’s corporate culture and reputation are part of the equation that potential employees consider when deciding to land.

And because young Americans tend to take the left side of the political equation on racial-fair politics and issues, they are pushing American corporations in that direction. The Harvard Business Review last year published the results of a survey of 168 MBA managers and students, 80% of whom were under 40 years old, and found that 42% of them are determined to be free and only 27% are conservative – and their opinion of a hypothetical firm has declined significantly when they are perceived to have conservative values.

However, there is another less obvious factor: It is the failures of the political system that are forcing business leaders to stay on the sidelines.

“In some ways, the breakdown in the political system and the polarization,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president of the American Chamber of Commerce and former top aide to the House Republicans in the House of Representatives. created this void. “The problems that arise can be frustrating for both sides, and the political system has had a way to deal with them. You have high ranking politicians who can close the distance and cool temperatures. You don’t have that today ”.

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