Corporations are New congress? Gun, the most concrete, national action on park-parkland, is likely to be the new policies of major chain retailers, who are now refusing to sell guns to individuals under 21 years of age. I don’t necessarily disagree with his new policy. But we feel uncomfortable when putting it in the context of a larger trend of corporate influence on our lives. (Yes, Alexa, I’m talking to you.)
Corporate CEOs are important people. Their decisions affect a lot of lives. But they are not elected, and their underlying goals and motivations are not geared towards solving complex social problems. Also, they do not have enough time. Given these truths, we need to consider whether their role in our society is becoming very large – as their companies are becoming very big.
One could argue that corporate activism is filling the vacuum left by the gridluck, the dysfunctional federal government. But the real benefit is simply the speed of corporations – they can make unilateral decisions quickly. When it comes to issues as difficult as mass shootings, swift action may sound good, but it may not be deep enough to effect lasting, cultural change.
Large-scale shooting cannot be fixed through patching, or repair. They will not be eliminated through gun policy or mental health investment. Are mass shot a “Evil problem“- a problem of enormous social complexity – which is incredibly difficult to solve. It’s the difference Fixing a clock and understanding a cloud – One requires inductive reasoning, the other requires emergent thinking.
Although corporate CEOs can work very well thinking about the needs and direction of their companies, they only have the time to make deductive arguments when it comes to social problems. They feel very smart and powerful – because they are – and may believe that their policy patch will do the work that these foolish elected officials cannot manage.
I think they are wrong, and I will have my chosen officers – incomplete as they may be – working together to address the big stuff. I hired him (by my vote). I did not hire the CEO.
For Benioff “something more” he considers social justice. For example, when lawmakers from Indiana and Georgia considered Beniff to propose discriminatory laws against the LGBTQ community, it threatened to pull thousands of jobs from those states. The bills failed.
Social justice is in the eye of the beholder. Benioff sees himself as a benevolent warrior; I see his move as soft-core blackmail, where there is a disproportionate impact on the legislative process.
I applaud Benioff for being vocal about what he is doing. At least we know what his goals are, and what he considers his role. I wonder which corporate CEOs almost everyday – for example, Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg – actually think they have, or should have, a role in the world. These individuals control enough stuff and information to make me really hope they are good people.
Corporate influence on our lives and culture is the reality of our world today, but we should always question how big the CEO role should be, especially when it comes to complex social challenges. And if CEOs want to make more impact, they can walk for office. Just like his friend Donald Trump.