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Leon Kaye headshot

U.S. Business Taking a Stand Against the Separation of Families at the U.S.-Mexico Border

By Leon Kaye

By now, it is clear that the American public is split over what is going on along the United States’ southern border – either you are in the Corey Lewandowski “womp womp” camp, or your thoughts on the issue are aligned with Rachel Maddow, who broke down last night while announcing an Associated Press breaking story over young children being sent to “tender age” shelters.

Now, many business leaders are showing which side of the “empathy gap” they are on – and many are not waiting to write an official press statement. Instead, they are stepping over themselves on social media platforms such as Twitter to show where they stand on this human rights crisis.

Many business groups, such as the Business Roundtable, are not mincing words and have joined the #KeepFamiliesTogether hashtag bandwagon:

Cruel” was the choice word used by AirBnb’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Chesky. “Gut-wrenching,” from the point of view of Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai.

Another Airbnb co-founder, Joe Gebbia, told the Financial Times that the company’s response to this controversy was in part driven by the reactions of the travel accommodation web site’s employees, hosts and users. While Gebbia explained to FT that Airbnb experienced some “blowback” to its stance on immigration during last year’s immigration ban saga, any negative impact on its business at the most left no “meaningful dent.”

Chobani’s founder Hamdi Ulukaya, who himself has received death threats due to his company’s open-arms policy of hiring refugees, weighed in as well.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hardly a bastion of left-leading economic and social policy, ripped into the Trump Administration’s policy of trying to leverage the separation of families to influence Congress to change federal immigration policy:

“Let that sink in for a second: our government is forcibly separating children – including toddlers – from their parents and sending them to detention facilities as a means of sending a message and influencing Congress.”

Other CEOs have gone beyond assailing the White House’s current stance on how families are being treated along the border, announcing the ways in which their companies taking action. For example, Lyft’s co-founder and CEO, Logan Green, said they are offering “relief rides” for organizations working to assist families affected what is happening in southern Texas.

The co-founder and CEO of Yelp, Jeremy Stoppelman, urged other technology companies to join him in a planned nationwide really activists have planned on June 30.

Some corporate leaders are opening their wallets. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have reportedly donated to a fundraiser that seeks to help reunite migrant children with their families.

As FT’s Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson explained, these actions show that companies are evolving past the twentieth-century “singular focus” on producing profits to demonstrating current responsibilities to all stakeholders.

We expect even more companies and brands to take a stand on this polarizing issue, but at the same time, there are some business leaders who are taking a more nuanced stand on how they feel about families being separated at the U.S. border. Tesla’s Elon Musk, for one, has appeared to throw up his hands. When called out on Twitter for taking a lukewarm stance on the border crisis, Musk simply responded.

Others, such as Goldman Sachs’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein, tried to have it both ways. According to Fortune, Blankfein described the ongoing situation as “heart-rending” and “tragic.” But he also had this to say about the line in the sand that the Trump Administration has drawn:

“It’s easy to criticize. It’s easy to say what you would do if you didn’t have to bear the consequences for what you decided. But when you have to bear the consequences . . . that’s what’s tough. That why I have a lot of sympathy for the people making the decision making. So when something doesn’t quite work out I right, I don’t want to go out and kill the person who made the decision… I wouldn’t want to be in the position we find our government in now, in respect to the tragedy that’s going on at the border.”

Now we ask you: what stand is your company taking toward what is happening along the Texas-Mexico border?

Be sure to stay in touch on how companies are responding to this and other controversial social and political issues with our Brands Taking Stands newsletter.

Image credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Wikipedia

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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