Corporate Activism

by Mia Booth In the spring of 2020, Black Lives Matter, a movement that was gaining momentum, was a trending topic. After seeing the importance of this movement in many communities, businesses became actively involved in displaying their support of the movement." The vast majority of consumers — over 72 percent — have reported that they will actively seek a brand that aligns with their values if price and quality are equal," writes Real Leaders. Prior to spring 2020, some businesses, for example, Nike, played a role in showing their respect and support of #BlackLivesMatter. Nike has a well-known reputation for creating advertisements that not only sell their brand but have a larger message. The advertisements are impactful, but are their intentions genuine? Are Nike and other companies showing authentic support or trying to gain profit by using a movement as a strategy? William Roper states, "41 percent of respondents said they felt it was either somewhat or very important for U.S. companies to make public statements on political or social issues” (Roper 2020). If companies fail to address political movements that are important to their customers, they are bound to lose customers and be subject to backlash. Hence, it became popular amongst companies to display their support to movements. Local businesses located right in the heart of Chicago are quite public with their support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Businesses such as Kilwin’s, UPS store, Starbucks, Ain’t She Sweet, and more. After interviewing a local activist and entrepreneur, David Mabry, I was able to gain a better understanding of why it can be challenging to support a movement via a business. “Transparency is important in order to know what the core ethics or the business/organization are,” David states. “It is also important to remind yourself that not everyone has the same relationship with activist movements in the way that you do...” It can be easy to appear as a performative activist when your form of activism or support does not share commonalities with the normal traditions of activists. Showing genuine support in the professional world can be challenging but it takes time. It may be easier as a smaller company/business to show your support and be a part of the activism because you are starting small.

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