Just as politicians are no strangers to controversy, prominent businesses take their share of heat, too. But should companies get involved in political debate? Many Americans actually say yes. In a Global Strategy Group survey about business and politics, 88% of respondents said companies have the ability to affect social change, and 78% said corporations should take a stand on key social issues. And many companies have done just that. Here are 15 businesses that have gotten into the political fray.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump recently traveled to France and met with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte Macron. When the couples greeted each other, Donald Trump said to Brigitte Macron, “You know, you’re in such good shape. … Beautiful.”
Sporting goods company Reebok took to social media to express its distaste for Donald Trump’s comments. It created a chart, describing scenarios of when it is and isn’t acceptable to use the U.S. president’s line. Every scenario that involved telling a woman she’s in good shape was not appropriate, according to Reebok. The only scenario that received a green light? “Did you just find a forgotten action figure from your youth, unscathed after decades, in your parents’ basement?”
Next: You probably spend hours a week with this company but might not have known its political leanings.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been a vocal opponent of Trump. Back in 2016, he provided a statement for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, saying, “Trump would destroy much of what is great about America. Hillary Clinton is the strong leader we need, and it’s important that Trump lose by a landslide to reject what he stands for.”
Now that Trump’s in office, Hastings still isn’t backing down. Earlier in 2017, he spoke out against Trump’s travel ban, telling The Associated Press that Netflix had employees who couldn’t come to work because of it. Netflix joined the list of companies that publicly opposed the ban.
Next: This iconic American brand criticized Trump.
Another company that spoke out against Trump’s travel ban was Ford. Its CEO and chairman released a joint statement, saying, “Respect for all people is a core value of Ford Motor Company, and we are proud of the rich diversity of our company here at home and around the world. That is why we do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company.” According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford was the first automaker to come out against the ban.
Next: Trump has had an ongoing feud with this company.
Trump and Macy’s have had icy relations for several years now. Back in 2015, Macy’s dumped Trump’s menswear line after Trump said of Mexican immigrants, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” After the store dropped his line, Trump fired back several times at the company on Twitter, calling for people to boycott Macy’s. But then-Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren tried to smooth things over (unsuccessfully), saying the store didn’t want to carry Trump’s merchandise because he got into politics, not because of his comments about immigrants.
Next: This company doesn’t hide its Christian values.
It’s no secret Chick-fil-A upholds Christian values. Its stores close on Sunday, after all, so its employees are able to attend church. But the family that owns the business has crossed the political line, donating millions of dollars to anti-LGBT groups through the Chick-fil-A Foundation. The company’s CEO reportedly regretted taking a political stance — perhaps because of the backlash the business received — but the owners remain firm in their anti-gay marriage viewpoint.
Next: This popular sport only wants to see checkered flags.
When you think of the Confederate flag and NASCAR, you probably think of the South. And for a long time, the two were intertwined, with the flag making an appearance at most races in the stands, in advertisements, or even on official NASCAR items.
But after a racially motivated shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina, church killed nine people, NASCAR’s CEO Brian France called the flag “offensive” and said he wanted to eliminate it from the sport, SB Nation reports. NASCAR offered a program that allowed race attendees to turn in their Confederate flags and receive an American one instead, but there wasn’t much interest.
Next: This ride-sharing company pledged big bucks in response to a political move.
Ride-sharing company Lyft was another that opposed Trump’s travel ban. In fact, in response to the order the company pledged to donated $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union. “Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the U.S. is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values,” Lyft’s founders said in an email to customers, according to The Hill.
Next: Getting political didn’t work out so well for another ride-sharing company.
Uber made an apparent mistake when it tried to profit off the travel ban instead of take a stance like Lyft did. Once the ban was announced, New York taxi drivers stopped their service at JFK airport in solidarity with two detained immigrants, CNN reports. Uber tried to capitalize, suspending surge pricing at the airport. But customers felt this was an attempt to undermine the stand the taxi drivers were taking and called for an Uber boycott. Uber later tweeted the change in pricing was not intended to break up the strike, but the damage to its image was already done.
Next: People accused this company of starting a war on Christmas.
All it took was a plain red cup. Back in 2015, Starbucks chose to release a simple version of its annual holiday cup, attempting to appeal to all people, not just those who celebrate Christmas. And Trump took notice. At a rally, he told the crowd, “Maybe we should boycott Starbucks. I don’t know. Seriously. I don’t care,” The Washington Post reports.
That didn’t make Starbucks a fan of the president. According to a video obtained by Business Insider, Starbucks’ former CEO Howard Schultz said of Trump, “We have a president that is creating episodic chaos every single day and that is no doubt affecting consumer behavior.” Schultz previously had called Trump out for a “vitriolic display of bigotry and hate and divisiveness.” And Starbucks pledged to hire 10,000 refugees in response to Trump’s travel ban.
Next: This social media company promotes inclusiveness.
You can block people on Facebook who annoy you with political posts, but you can’t block the company from getting involved in politics. It’s actually complicated as to whether Facebook leans red or blue. Newsweek reports both Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have donated to Republicans and Democrats. And Facebook’s board and employees span across the political spectrum.
But when it comes to specific political issues, Zuckerberg clearly takes sides. Recently, in response to Trump’s call to ban transgender members of the military, Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page, “Everyone should be able to serve their country — no matter who they are.” Zuckerberg also has publicly advocated for combating climate change, protecting immigrants, and legalizing same-sex marriage.
Next: This store promotes its Christian values.
11. Hobby Lobby
It might not be a secret anymore that crafts store Hobby Lobby promotes conservative, Christian values. The store lists on its website several Christian groups to which it donates. It also has been placing Christian-themed ads in newspapers for holidays.
And a few years ago, Hobby Lobby took its religious views to the political arena — all the way up to the Supreme Court. The company argued it shouldn’t have to cover certain types of contraception that conflicted with its religious beliefs. And the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in a 5-4 decision.
Next: This company just wanted out.
Retailer Nordstrom might have just wanted to stay out of politics with this move, but instead it found itself prominently called out on the president’s Twitter. In early 2017, the store dropped Ivanka Trump’s line of clothing and accessories. The company said the reason was due to poor sales, according to The New York Times. But Donald Trump felt otherwise, tweeting, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
But entering the political fray might not have been such a bad thing for Nordstrom. Its stock actually surged after the president attacked the company on Twitter.
Next: Television turns off Trump.
After Trump made his controversial comments about Mexican immigrants back in 2015, NBC told him, “You’re fired!” as host of Celebrity Apprentice. NBC also canceled its showing of the Miss USA Pageant, which Trump formerly owned. But the political drama didn’t stop. After he was terminated, Trump and his Apprentice replacement and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger engaged in a bizarrely entertaining feud.
Next: This powerful company leans Democrat.
You might type annoying political tweets from your iPhone, but do you know what its company supports? Apple is somewhat of a mixed bag, with its CEO Tim Cook having donated money to both Republicans and Democrats, CNBC reports. The late Steve Jobs tended to lean Democrat with his donations.
But recently, Cook has taken a stand on certain politically charged issues. According to Fortune, he has spoken in favor of racial equality, protecting the environment, and LGBT rights. Cook even led thousands of Apple employees in a gay pride parade after coming out as gay himself.
Next: This company’s politics might surprise you.
For one, The Washington Post reports the company raised its minimum wage several dollars above the federal limit, something many Republicans have opposed. And Walmart condemned Arkansas’ contentious religious freedom law that allows businesses to deny service based on religious beliefs, which opponents say is anti-gay. Walmart also eliminated any items for sale with the Confederate flag after the South Carolina church shooting. In taking these stands, Walmart has firmly planted itself on one side of the political debate.