February 3, 2023

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Beware of the ‘pushback against wokeness’

2 min read

With an ongoing war in Europe, an ongoing public health crisis, and various social issues gripping America, corporate executives increasingly find themselves facing questions from employees about whether or not they plan to take a stand.

But if CEOs were to take a stand against this backdrop, according to Edelman CEO Richard Edelman, it shouldn’t be representing the company.

“They should speak out as citizens, but they shouldn’t speak out as CEOs,” Edelman recently told Yahoo Finance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (video above). “And the CEO position, again, this remit of issues can expand beyond the long length of my arm. And we better be careful here because there’s starting to be a pushback against wokeness.”

Disney (DIS) recently found itself in the crosshairs of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after he signed that “Don’t Say Gay” bill and Disney denounced the legislation after employee outcry.

Richard Edelman, President and CEO of the public relations company Edelman, attends a conference in Cannes, France, June 19, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

“You have to put priority on those [issues] that are directly affecting your business,” Edelman said. “Again, supply chain or health of your employee base. But on ones where it’s a matter of personal choice, leave that for your personal politics and donations to senators. But your mandate as the CEO is to stand up and speak up only on those issues where you actually can add value.”

According to Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer, “more than 8 in 10 respondents want CEOs to be the face of change, leading on policy, not on politics.” In the survey, business outscored government by 53 points on competence and 26 points on ethics.

“Business became the most trusted institution two years ago, January,” Edelman said. “And that’s continued in this study. And the most important fact, though, is the gap in competence between business and government is [over] 50 points. So when you think about why…

2022-06-04 08:12:27

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