The business sector is not afraid to create political change



This opinion piece was submitted by RGJ columnist Sheila Leslie, who served in the Nevada Legislature from 1998 to 2012.

One of the results of the growing polarization of the electorate has been the willingness on both sides to use their economic power to boycott – or in modern parlance, “cancel” – the people or businesses they perceive to be working. against their personal and collective political interests. Lately, the phenomenon has spread to the business community, as many companies are ready to challenge political actions that do not match their values.

Texas’ new anti-abortion law is a prime example. The law prohibits abortion after a heartbeat can be detected for any reason except a medical emergency, effectively banning abortions after six weeks, a period during which many women fail to realize. not even that they are pregnant. The law makes no exceptions for pregnancies caused by incest or rape. It also encourages people to sue anyone who has an abortion or helps someone else get one by offering a premium of up to $ 10,000 per abortion.

Rideshare companies immediately responded to the new law with strong words and actions to protect their drivers and oppose public order. Lyft and Uber have agreed to pay legal fees for any driver sued for transporting someone to an abortion and harshly criticizing Texas lawmakers. In a public statement, Lyft noted, “Drivers are never responsible for monitoring where their passengers are going or why … Likewise, passengers never have to justify, or even share, where they are going and why. a pregnant woman trying to get to a medical appointment and not knowing if your driver will cancel you for fear of breaking a law. Both are totally unacceptable. “

Lyft effectively summed up the outrageous conceptual framework of the Texas law that encourages people to educate themselves about each other’s private health care needs: “This law is inconsistent with people’s basic privacy rights. , our community guidelines, the spirit of carpooling and our values ​​as a business. “They then announced their decision to donate $ 1 million to Planned Parenthood to ensure that” transportation is never a barrier access to health care “.

GoDaddy, a leading web hosting company, refused to run an abortion tracking website designed to support the new law, starting on the virtual curb with just 24 hours’ notice for violating GoDaddy’s Terms of Service.

Even more worrying for Texas, the hottest tech companies have also reacted strongly. Vivek Bhaskaran, the head of QuestionPro, called a town hall for his Austin-based employees just days after the law was passed. He told them the company would cover the costs of out-of-state abortion care, saying, “I’m not a politician; I can’t change anything. But I am still responsible for my employees in Texas, and I have a moral responsibility to them.

Other companies have joined in concerns about maintaining their tech workforce in Texas and difficulty recruiting new workers, especially women and young adults, as Texas turns to the right on reproductive health and voting rights.

The trend towards corporate activism can turn into a movement. Business writer Alan Brown dubbed the metric the “Measuring Return on Principles (ROP)”. Brown says, “Real change only happens when a company sets goals against principles and continually takes stock of its actions to achieve them. ROP will demonstrate a positive impact on intangibles that will help determine long-term sustainable sales growth. “

Brown cites Patagonia, one of Reno’s favorite conscience companies, for its activism, noting their recent decision to stop the sale of Patagonia products at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort after the owners agreed to co-host a fundraiser for right-wing extremists like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green and the House Freedom Caucus who continue to perpetuate the big lie of voter fraud.

Patagonia spokesperson Corley Kenna said the action was an obvious step in upholding the company’s values.

“Those who know us in Jackson Hole understand that we make business decisions and build relationships that align with our values ​​and our advocacy efforts,” Kenna said. “We join the local community who are using their voice to protest. We will continue to use our business to advocate for policies to protect our planet, to support thriving communities and a strong democracy.”

It’s refreshing to see companies move forward and clearly state their values, then take action to amplify their voice beyond the interests of their own employees, demonstrating their concern for the community as a whole. Hopefully their activism will extend to withholding campaign contributions from undemocratic “big lies” politicians and their political parties. Just as consumers can vote with their feet, the business sector can use its economic power and voice to create political change and advance our democracy.

RGJ columnist Sheila Leslie served in the Nevada Legislature from 1998 to 2012.

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