U.S. companies love to tout their patriotism. They sponsor local parades, fireworks displays, and historical documentaries. But companies must also play a role in standing up for the freedoms they claim to support. True patriotism is not blind fealty to red, white, and blue propaganda. Quite the contrary. True patriotism requires us to push to become the country we describe in our unifying vision statement and collective values: equality, opportunity, and freedom from tyranny. (Article continues after video.)
Draw a Clear Line that Aligns with Your Values
Does your company make clear the lines it will not cross? Determine now what behavior, rhetoric, or policies will you not support under any circumstances. Look to the ethics guidelines for your industry or profession. Reinforce these standards at every opportunity. Explicitly and clearly state why these lines matter to your company. Be ready to hold accountable anyone—employee, executive, vendor, or client—who crosses the line.
Be Transparent with Campaign Contributions
Your company probably makes contributions to political campaigns and political action committees. These donations often support candidates who would advocate for tax policies or (de)regulation that the company sees as advantageous, for example. Make sure you’re actively filtering out any recipients who cross the ethical lines you’ve already established.
Are you transparent about where these dollars go? If not, then you’re probably crossing your own line (see above) with these contributions. Your shareholders, customers, and employees deserve to know what policies are being supported in their names. And they have every right to call you out on hypocrisy.
Make Election Day a Paid Holiday
Elections matter. And the right to free and fair elections is the cornerstone of our republic. Ask yourself if your company is doing everything it can to ensure the accessibility and integrity of elections. You can start by making Election Day a paid company holiday. Apply this policy to both salaried and hourly workers.
You can go even further. Host voter registration drives. Encourage employees to vote with internal marketing campaigns. Provide information about how employees can volunteer at the polls.
Don’t Cross the Line with Your Feet or Dollars
You’re probably already watching the legislative dockets at the state and federal levels. After all, good risk management requires you to know if new regulations will threaten your business operations. Make sure you’re also watching for laws that will harm your employees and customers. Ask your ERG leaders what concerns their members have about the laws under consideration. USE YOUR POWER TO ADVOCATE FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES. Commit to doing business in states with broad support for human rights. Don’t ask employees to travel to places where they or their colleagues are not safe. Demand that industry conferences boycott states where your employees’ safety is threatened.
True Patriotism Requires Action
Our nation is under attack: targeted misinformation campaigns from our adversaries; a coup that would destroy our right to self-govern (and still seeks to do so); the rise of fascism, hate groups, and white nationalist terror cells; unprecedented levels of gun violence. Corporate leaders need to take clear steps now. Not just to preserve their own institutions, but to co-create the nation they claim to love.