Posted May 30, 2018

Blogs: Employee activism challenges CEOs to take action

As activism grows in the marketplace, leaders must chart the course for their companies.

Employees are starting to organize around social or political issues and pressure their companies to do something about them. This trend of employee activism deserves careful attention from companies because it is only going to grow and requires careful management by business leaders.

Several incidents of employee activism have drawn attention in the past couple of years. In late 2016, IBM employees rose up in response to CEO Ginny Rometty's open letter to Donald Trump in which she praised the then newly elected president for his corporate tax break plans and pledged to collaborate with him on areas such as government infrastructure and security. 

Last year, Amazon employees tried to push management to stop running ads on Breitbart News. The movement started with an employee-initiated complaint ticket in Amazon’s internal issue-escalation system that coincided with a public, online grassroots campaign protesting the news outlet and pressuring advertisers to cut their spending on it.

This trend of employee activism is not surprising given that Cone Communications reports millennials prefer to do business with corporations and brands with pro-social and pro-environmental messages, and they are now the most populous generation in today's US labor force, according to the Pew Research Center. So it makes sense that this younger generation of workers are speaking out to their employers.

In fact, according to opinion research firm Povaddo, 26% of millennial workers can be categorized as "employee activists" based on their belief that it’s important to work for a company that’s not afraid to be vocal on important societal issues.  

Business leaders can mitigate the potential negative impact that employee activism may produce and instead leverage it to enhance their company's image.  

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Source: Smart Brief