CEO and corporate activism–the practice of CEOs taking public positions on environmental, social, and political issues not directly related to their business–has become a hotly debated topic in
corporate governance. Following the events of January 6 and the 2020 U.S. presidential election, many corporations either halted their political giving programs or made permanent changes to their approach. How should a board handle these areas? How should a board respond when a traditionally political question suddenly becomes a matter of corporate policy? Should CEOs and boards take positions on matters as diverse as voting rights legislation, gun safety laws, immigration, content control (for media platforms), gender issues, geopolitical conflicts, and presidential politics? How
should boards measure the costs and benefits of political activism, particularly when state governments may retaliate? How do customer, investor, and employee preferences play into that equation? This session will present a framework that boards can use to assess the pros and cons of corporate advocacy, and discuss how boards can be prepared to respond to resulting criticism in the face of companies or CEOs taking public positions or remaining silent.