What kind of activism can I expect from CEOs? /1

Part 1: Intro

[Read my Privilege Statement]

Recently, I’ve found myself obsessed with the question: what can I realistically expect from my leaders when it comes to taking a stance on social issues?

It started the morning after Trump was elected President; I walked into work and was overcome with nausea and confusion: who could I trust? (I recognize that it’s a privilege to only now question this for the first time.)

Over the past year and a half, Trump’s party has explicitly challenged basic human rights — those of mine and my friends.

In the age of Trump, the limits of when I stay silent and when I speak up have been tested. I’m beginning to understand how what I say can have unintended consequences, such as distress in my family and discomfort at work.

But I’m also noticing what is not being said by my friends, family, and the institutions that I work for, that I represent, or that represent me.

It has become increasingly commonplace for CEOs to stand up to the President and his party (explicitly and/or implicitly) for reasons including: making sure employees know that they are respected and welcome, appealing to socially-minded consumers and customers, or simply doing the right thing. They are called activist CEOs.

I envy people who know where their leaders stand, and who can feel good about it.

As a justice-oriented and socially-minded young person, and an employee of a large Fortune 6 company, I do wonder: does my employment make me complicit in something that is against my values?

In this series, I’ll cover why I care, what are the cases for activist leaders and what are the potential downsides, and hopefully come to some sort of conclusion on what I can realistically expect.

Feel free to follow along and share your thoughts!

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