Corporate Social Responsibility, BLM, and Consumer Activism

Below is an excerpt from the CSBS’s podcast with Dr. Ishva Minefee, Assistant Professor of Business Administration at the University of Illinois, in the Gies College of Business.  

In this episode, Dr. Minefee talks with CSBS Research Scientist Peter Ondish about his experience seeing how companies in South Africa differed in their social messaging around Apartheid and how that shaped his interest in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). We discuss what CSR is, how it’s measured, the trend of corporations taking an increasing stance on social issues—and whether those stances are actually impactful. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:  

Pete: Can I ask you a very speculative question?

Ishva:  Yeah.

Pete: What do you think is the eventual conclusion of the trend where corporations are becoming more political?

Ishva: To the eventual conclusion? 

Pete: Evolving to a point where companies are more often and increasing, slowly, kind of declaring their stance around certain social issues? And do you think people will continue to increasingly shop in ways that align with their ideological values, for example?

Ishva: Yes, I definitely think so. And so I just had a conference a few weeks ago and someone presented data on this notion of corporate socio political activism from a U.S. perspective and how this really kicked off since 2008 onwards to today. And it’s definitely on the upwards trend and I think it really takes off in 2016, through 2020 with the presidency of Donald Trump, at least here in the U.S., where a lot of folks saw things as very polarizing.

Ishva: And so not only do you have a general public being polarized, you have employees taking stances and expecting their firms to take stances. And I think that’s going to be a strong point moving forward onwards 2025, 2030, where firms will take stance on Russia and Ukraine or another war. And unfortunately, there are a number of wars that are ongoing where no one’s talking about them in coverage.

Ishva: But if there’s another event, let’s say next year or in 2025, where it’s a lot of media coverage, there’s going to be an expectation that individuals and actually employees and shareholders will hang on these firms to maintain the stance they took in the past. So I do think that you’re going to see a lot more of this. I do think it is here to stay.