I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials where Walmart is advertising it has food collection boxes at all of its stores. Or maybe where ExxonMobil talks about algae as the fuel of the future. There are many others out there. The jist is look how great we are, we care about hunger, the environment, workers, or another issue for which we might think is the opposite. We then think they are being good corporate neighbors and their social conscience “stock” goes up.
But, if we pull back the curtain a little bit, and pay closer attention to what is behind the curtain, we see it is all a bit of a façade. These companies want us to believe they truly care, whereas their behind-the-scene actions are quite the opposite. This applies to more companies than it should, with fewer companies, like Ben & Jerry’s, actually doing the right thing.
For some reason, we, as a society, keep thinking businesses will do the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Even those companies have convinced Congress, government agencies, and to some degree, us, they are good citizens and we should trust them to police themselves. The self-policing is rarely successful as we have watch scandals and corruption unfold over the years.
Here are some examples of companies being, what I would call a, less than stellar standing in promoting the good of the commons, and people in general. Companies are earning big profits, and many paying little taxes, and still not treating their employees or our country very well.
Let’s start with Amazon. Record profits during the pandemic, and they were doing pretty well before the pandemic, but pay little in taxes. Then some workers wanted to unionize, which Amazon did not want. Several stories were written about how they were using anti-union tactics to keep the union out of Alabama site.
Then we have Delta Airlines and Coca Cola in regards to voting rights in Georgia. Delta said they were part of the writing of the new law, and Coca Cola was essentially quiet about what was happening. For transparency, both companies did do a bit of a 180 when the tide starting turning against them for their complicity and complacency.
Next is Walmart, who may have those food boxes, which sadly, many of their employees probably are in need of, as a public relations strategy. They still keep a large set of employees at less than full-time even when their profits are pretty good, which even with Walmart raising their minimum hourly pay, still keeps employees in need due to being less than full-time, with benefits.
Last, but definitely not least, 100 corporations met to discuss halting donations to political campaigns in the wake of voter suppression and restrictive laws. Some companies did take a pause on donations after the January 6 insurrection, but a pause is not a full stop. The 100 corporations didn’t seem to be meeting to actually halt donations, or how they had already done a full stop on donations, they were meeting to discuss halting donations. The right thing would have been to stop donating to any politician who helped promote the big lie, who did not immediately condemn the insurrection, and who are opposed to taking action to pass a voter’s rights law and denounce proposed voter suppression laws. These should not be about discussing stopping, it should have been about we’ve stopped, here’s why, and we won’t start donations again to anyone opposing voting rights and still promoting the big lie. Or better yet, they should just stop donating to politicians at all as they really shouldn’t be involved with politics anyway.
Another leg of this propagation of talk rather than action, is the complicity and weak independent press in our country. Very few newspapers had a front page demand the former man resign from office over inciting the insurrection and promoting the big lie, as they never did with other egregious acts by the Republicans, the Trumpublicans, and the former president. When the media does not do the right thing, then they have failed at speaking truth to power, and failed at informing the public of the facts, and nothing but the facts, two pillars of a free independent press.
In reality, until the press steps up their pressure, reporting, and investigating politicians and corporations, and until we step up our voting each and every election, corporate entities and politicians will not make any changes or shifts of thinking.