There was a time when business leaders shied away from controversy, not wanting to stray too far off their established brand messaging. But that was then, and this is a time when CEOs at companies of all sizes are speaking out on social issues, taking public stands on hot-button national and local issues. Carbonite President and CEO Mohamad Ali, in a recent interview, said corporate executives today come to the CEO office knowing the job comes with a social responsibility that extends beyond their own business.
“I am optimistic about the US’s future because more American business leaders are recognizing that they can no longer sit on the sidelines and must now engage the policies that will shape our country,” Ali said. “The fact that leaders in the technology industry have taken such a strong stance in favor of thoughtful immigration policies is an example of this. Secondly, we live at a time when science and technology can be deployed to have massively positive effects on our economy and society, if we act with urgency and thoughtfulness.”
Ali’s quote topped this roundup of 33 reasons we should all be optimistic about the future of the country—along with more women taking on powerful positions in corporations and governments.
“Finally, we live in a country with a constitution that aspires to equality and opportunity for all,” said Ali. “While we have a tremendous amount of work to do, we have the fundamentals for a bright future.”
Consumers watch and listen
Consumers want brands—or their CEOs—to take stands on social and politics, say public relations experts and business analysts. Harvard Business Review has chronicled The New CEO Activists. The publication named several factors influencing the CEO-as-activist trend, including the fact that Millennials will weigh CEO activism when deciding on a brand. Many times, business leaders choose to talk publicly about issues that are personal to them.
In 2017, Ali was among the Boston-based CEOs who spoke out against the Trump administration’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, which granted temporary legal status to people whose parents brought them here illegally as children. At a Faneuil Hall gathering in protest of that decision, Ali said: There’s a significant shortage of talent and that talent is somewhat addressed by retraining people here in the United States, but also utilizing the immigrant population. And that has always been true in America: this combination of immigrant talent and domestic talent to create one of the strongest workforces and the strongest economy."
Ali, who last year delivered the keynote address for 200 immigrants taking the oath of American citizenship at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, has publicly shared his personal story of emigrating from Guyana at age 11. In that speech, Ali said: “You have been our nation’s strength and you will continue to be. Your citizenship is our badge of honor and our hope.”