2017 certainly was a lively year as many companies quickly stood up against the Trump Administration on various policies, from immigration to the environment. This wave of corporate activism continued during 2018, as more companies became emboldened to draw a line in the sand when it came to many of the most volatile social and political challenges festering within and beyond America’s borders.
Of course, there were far more than these five companies that made it clear they opposed Trump’s rhetoric and positions on various issues. For example, we have Cards Against Humanity, which bought a plot of land along the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to foil the president’s much ballyhooed “wall.” Bill Penzy, the CEO of Penzy’s Spices, will speak out against #45 any opportunity he can, and has does not hesitate to call this POTUS a “racist.”
Nevertheless, from our point of view, we mention five companies that have stood out during 2018 for stepping up and speaking out against some of the recent policies that have come out of the White House.
A year in politics can seem like a lifetime; during this current administration, it may seem like nine lifetimes, no matter which side you’re on when it comes to this current president. Airbnb has been a vocal critic of the Trump White House from the beginning, being one of the most recognizable of brands taking stands. Shortly after the president’s inauguration and attempt at implementing a travel ban, the accommodation booking site offered free housing to anyone affected by the policy.
Plus, it’s been almost a year, but remember when the president referred to a bevy of Latin American and African nations as “s—hole” countries? Well, Airbnb trolled Trump during his most recent State of the Union address by touting the travel possibilities at places such as Haiti:
True, 56 companies immediately sent a letter to the Trump White House last fall after the administration announced that it would define a person’s gender based on biological sex at birth. But IBM did more than just sign that letter: it quickly went public to declare that the company believed such a policy was wrong. “We’re proud to stand in support of the transgender and entire LGBT+ communities,” said Tia Salas, IBM’s vice president, global chief diversity and inclusion officer, in a statement posted on the Human Rights Campaign’s web site. “And it’s why we will continue advocating for Congress to pass the Equality Act and ensure transgender individuals are treated equally under the law.”
The company has pledged to support any employee’s gender identity and expression since 2002; its nondiscrimination policy toward gay and lesbian employees dates back to 1984.
Unlike Dick’s Sporting Goods, which actually sells guns (though it drastically changed that policy after the Parkland, Florida mass shooting) Levi’s is, of course, in the business of apparel. But that didn’t stop the company from supporting organizations focused on stopping gun violence.
Furthermore, the company has been vocal about the White House’s unilateral decision to raise tariffs, and has made it clear that this policy shift will affect far more companies than those that make or procure aluminum and steel. Last summer, Levi’s Chief Financial Officer, Harmit Singh, told CNBC the tariffs “could have an impact at how people look at American products and American companies. And that is something that we do worry about.”
Like many technology companies, Microsoft has been called out for allegations that its software was being used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as it separated families at the southern U.S. border. And in response, Microsoft has steadfastly denied that has been the case. In turn, the tech giant was one of the first, and loudest, to speak out against the family separation policy. “As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border, said the company in a June 18 statement. Furthermore, the company appeared to lecture the White House on immigration policy, as it said, “Family unification has been a fundamental tenet of American policy and law since the end of World War II.”
A day later, Microsoft amplified its call to Washington, D.C. to get its act together. “We need Congress to remember the fundamental decency and humanitarian spirit that defines us as a people and a nation. In short, we need to take care of children,” Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, said on the company’s blog.
The company manages its own program and software to help its 15,000 visa-dependent employees navigate through the massive labyrinth that comprises U.S. immigration rules and policies. Microsoft is also among the tech giants that publicly argues that ongoing immigration policies will hurt the U.S. economy in the long term.
The outdoor clothing apparel maker and retailer has been quick to put its thumb in the president’s eye. Following the Trump Administration’s announcement in late 2017 that it would roll back some of the land protections granted by President Obama, Patagonia rolled out a campaign blaring “The President Stole Your Land.” So, what did the company do this year with the $10 million or so windfall it received from the Trump tax cuts? It donated that money to groups fighting climate change – and in announcing that largess, Patagonia’s CEO, Rose Marcario, described Trump’s environmental policies as “evil.”
Image credit: Ted Eytan/Flickr