ftWorld News

CEOs are tired of being held responsible for gun regulation

A version of this story first appeared on CNN Business’ Before the Bell newsletter. Not a subscriber ? You can register here. You can listen to an audio version of the newsletter by clicking on the same link.

new York

Americans have become accustomed to seeing business leaders travel the beaten path of the Northeast Corridor to gather alongside elected officials in Washington, D.C., and discuss geopolitics, politics, and everything in between. two.

In 2017, top CEOs from across the country came together to oppose North Carolina’s transgender bathroom law. In 2019, they called banning abortion “bad for business.”

After the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, many of the biggest names in American business denounced the rioters and pledged to end their political donations.

Recently, more than 1,000 companies promised to voluntarily reduce their operations in Russia to protest Moscow’s war against Ukraine.

Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling semi-automatic assault rifles in stores and Citigroup imposed new restrictions on gun sales to professional customers after the 2018 mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school .

A year later, after mass shootings at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and a nightclub in Dayton, Ohio, Walmart ended sales of handgun ammunition.

Business leaders have long spoken out on the issue of gun control – in 2019 and again last summer, nearly 150 major companies – including Lululemon, Lyft, Bain Capital, Bloomberg LP, Permanente Medical Group and Unilever – have called gun violence a “public health crisis.” » and demanded that the US Senate pass legislation to fix it.

This is why the silence of corporate America following the latest mass shooting at a Nashville school is so shocking. The United States has come to rely on the growing power of big business as its political advocates.

But Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale professor and strong advocate of corporate social responsibility who has a direct connection to top CEOs around the world, said top executives are desperate. Their previous efforts haven’t done much to advance gun control legislation and without more support, they don’t know what else to do at the moment, he said.

Before Bell spoke with Sonnenfeld, who directs the Chief Executive Leadership Institute at the Yale School of Management, a nonprofit education and research institute focused on CEO leadership and corporate governance.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Before the bell: CEOs have been silent on gun reform since the latest Nashville school shooting, have you heard about their plans to speak out?

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld: Where are the others ? Where is all civil society? CEOs are just one group of people and it’s like we look to them to be our saviors in all matters. They have joined causes with courage and nobility, but they cannot simply take up cause after cause as if there were no one else in society. The social change that occurred in the 1960s was not led primarily by CEOs. Social change really happened when we saw the interfaith activity of clergy coming together and petitioning legislators. We saw campuses alive and excited. Where has all the student activism gone?

CEOs remain the most active even if they are less active than six months ago. They are not there as employees of shareholders to fulfill the role of politicians and civic leaders. They are there to join this choir, but they don’t want to be the only ones singing.

So, is this what you hear from the biggest CEOs? Are they tired of pleading?

I just took a call from CEOs on voting rights and this morning we had a forum on sustainability – CEOs are always the most active on these fronts. The same goes for immigration reform. If a CEO worked 18 hours a day over a 12-day week, they still wouldn’t be able to solve all the problems that need to be solved.

The country’s CEOs are waiting for everyone else to join them. They don’t need to restate something they’ve already stated. They jumped in the pool, where are the others?

So, what do you think has led to this American complacency and increasing reliance on CEOs to defend our interests?

They took a very strong stance and went further than the general public. This is where the general public participates in investigations, but it is not where the general public participates in action on the streets. So we are ready for others to do something. Enough already of saying “what do CEOs do?” » Social capital is as valuable as financial capital. CEOs understand that deep down in their souls they want there to be social capital. They want to gain public trust, but they need the rest of civil society to join them. And that’s their frustration.

Looks like the CEOs are frustrated?

Yeah, they’re frustrated.

But don’t these CEOs hold the purse strings in terms of donations to powerful politicians?

You would think so, but since the 2020 election, big corporations have made far fewer campaign contributions. Since the 2021 election campaign on Capitol Hill, many companies have either imposed an official moratorium or given only pennies to politicians. The widespread impression on the street that CEOs control the campaign purse strings is completely false.

By CNN’s Chris Isidore

Tesla reported. a modest 4% increase in first-quarter sales compared to the final three months of last year, despite a series of price cuts on its least expensive vehicles and comments from CEO Elon Musk about strong demand at those prices lower.

The first quarter also marked the fourth consecutive quarter in which Tesla produced more vehicles than it delivered to customers. This could be due in part to the ramp-up in production at two new factories, one in Texas, the other in Germany, which opened last spring, and the lag between this increase in production and that Sales.

Tesla said there was an increase in the number of its most expensive models, the Model S and Model X, in transit to Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as the Asia-Pacific region. .

But that means that over the past 12 months, Tesla produced 78,000 more cars than it sold, suggesting that claims of strong demand from Tesla executives may not be true. not be supported by the figures.

“At the beginning of this year, we made a price adjustment. After that, we generated huge demand, more than we can actually produce,” said Tom Zhu, Tesla director in charge of global production and sales. “And like Elon said, as long as you offer a valuable product at an affordable price, you don’t have to worry about demand.”


Back to top button