12 June 2020 Should businesses remain apolitical?

There is no doubt that the current fight against black violence has completely reverberated through the international community, as well as the business community. Brands across the globe are making their stance known, whether it is a bold campaign such as Ben & Jerry’s, or Netflix’s more subtle move to pull inappropriate content.

In an interview with SmartCompany, our co-Managing Director Joanne Painter answers the questions: “In this increasingly connected world, is it possible for businesses to remain apolitical? And perhaps more importantly, should they?”

Joanne says businesses have an important role to play in fostering a just society.

“Businesses — especially those with a social media presence — have an important role to play in ensuring misinformation, racism and bigotry aren’t spread. They also need to balance this with the right to free speech, which is impossible to do in real-time at scale.”

She says Twitter’s recent move to put a fact-check label on President Donald Trump’s tweets for containing misleading information is a good step forward.

“Twitter’s stance is an admirable first step in addressing the societal fractures social media platforms have created between communities. 

“Racism has always existed. What social media has given us is a direct window and spotlight into the scale of the issue — beamed direct to your hand.”

Joanne points to the need for the voices of everyone to be heard, including those of businesses.

“What we’re witnessing in the US, and have experienced throughout Australia’s history, is the widespread suppression of black voices and rights.

“Silence feeds racism. All members of our society, including and possibly led by businesses, need to ‘take the knee’, and speak out and lend their voice to the chorus calling for change.”

Joanne concluded: “This isn’t a political issue; it’s a human rights issue.

“The disenfranchised die in darkness. It’s the moral responsibility of all to shine a light and stand up for equality, opportunity and freedom.”

You can read her thoughts in full, as well as those of other business leaders, on SmartCompany.