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“CEOs are facing an external pressure from the go woke, go broke movement, and they’re afraid that it’s going to affect their bottom line. So, the question that they’re struggling with is how do we achieve our business goals despite these conflicting stakeholders, DEI demands, both from external forces that are saying you shouldn’t be woke, internal forces that are saying, we want you to be engaged. What it’s doing for CEOs is giving them a whole lot of cognitive overload because they don’t often know what the threat is. They’re not really sure. And understand that CEOs are human beings, so the same threats that are affecting their bottom line can be affecting them personally. They can have a personal feeling about the way these things are happening, these culture wars. They can feel that and they don’t know a lot of times whether the threat that they’re feeling from the DEI realm is an entrenched threat like systemic inequity or an episodic threat like it was with the murder of George Floyd.

What do you respond to? And you don’t really put your finger on it, you don’t know what’s going on. So, you just in general, state of threat. The reality is the fear that the CEOs are feeling right now about this backlash, the stay woke, go broke is completely unfounded. The public is not buying this anti-woke stuff, not really. There was a new survey that came out recently from Weber Shandwick, and it said that 65% of employees believe that companies still have a responsibility to speak up, even if it’s a controversial or sensitive issue. And the majority of employees expect organizations and CEOs to stand up on social issues like human rights, climate change, racism, gun violence. They still expect it. And even though you have the Bud Light example where they got run out of business because of the cultural backlash, a lot of other companies that have been targeted by the stop woke movement are doing just fine.
Keurig is up 5%. United Airlines made $843 million in profits, Amazon, Kellogg’s, Nike’s, the NFL, they are all staying woke and they’re doing better than ever. So, it’s an unfounded fear, but it’s understandable why they would have it. That’s on CEOs.”

Listen to the full podcast from But First, People.

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