Should Business Leaders Use Their Bully Pulpit?


Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel got into trouble with customers and employees after donating $150,000 to Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who opposes gay marriage. Target was forced to clarify their position on gay rights, but the company remained committed to many of the governor's economic policies.

New Balance CEO Rob DeMartini was also force to apologize to customers after the company's chairman, James Davis, gave a secret political donation to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who signed an anti-gay marriage pledge.

And because so many customers are so passionate about many political issues, many customers are threatening to vote with their wallets. And while there is no current hard data to suggest a drop in sales, Ornstein recommends that companies be wary of how their executives express themselves.

"You can lose a lot of customers and not necessarily gain anything in your own interests," said Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

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