Causefeeding and Corporate Hypocrisy
Among the dangers involved in the rise of corporations has been a disturbing new trend of cause feeding. With the goal of looking good to the right market groups, corporations have used their considerable resources to push social and “cause” agendas that extend beyond the scope of their core businesses.
These efforts are the actions of followers and often times hypocritical. The corporations are not engaging in leadership positions but rather in the worst kind of weak-willed follower positions designed to garnish the right headlines rather than create opportunities for change.
The most recent example of this has been the debate over the Anthem and how the NFL enforces it. Deciding that the National Anthem was the best moment to suddenly support players and take a stand, the organization is now facing a backlash from fans and advertisers. Taking a stand in support of players by itself is something the NFL should do. However, the timing reeked of opportunistic hypocrisy. This is an organization that spent millions investigating one of its most recognizable players because he might have deflated some balls. This is an organization that could not seem to figure out that a player, caught on tape hitting his fiancée, should be banned for life.
This is an organization that has gone out of its way to diminish information about concussions, an organization that would not let players commemorate 9-11 or the Police tragedy in Dallas. Yet all of a sudden, the NFL discovered its morals and decided to support its players taking a stand only when the president called them out. This is the same organization that willingly accepted 54 million dollars from the military to create a tie into the NFL and promote a propagandist version of patriotism.
If the NFL wanted to really support its players and their freedom then the organization would have immediately supported the players and their decisions. The NFL only started to care when it became convenient to do so. This is the very essence of cause feeding: jumping on bandwagons and making grandiose public statements of morality that lack real action.
The North Carolina bathroom law is another example of this cause feeding hypocrisy that corporations embrace as an illusion of caring when their actions are not supported by their words. Corporations such as PayPal, Amazon, and Google announced that they would remove over 400 jobs and future investment in the state as protest to what they deemed as an unjust law.
On this surface this would seem like a noble action, refusing to do business in places that pass discriminatory laws. Yet digging deeper shows that these actions are posturing rather than trying to create change. If these companies really cared and stood for the values that they proclaim to care about, they would not be doing business in countries that actually suppress, imprison and kill homosexuals. But no, they have no issue about doing business in those countries but a US state that passes a bathroom law is all of a sudden the opportunity to proclaim moral superiority and use jobs and economic development as a threat to create the changes they claim to support.
Apple was founded on the principles of open and free communication. This was an inviolable ideal that propelled the company to incredible heights and influence. Yet today, the new leadership of Apple is willing to betray this founding principle for the sake of commerce by abandoning the idea of free communication and access to information in order to enter the Chinese market. I guess morals are only important when they get headlines.
Bill Gates has long advocated for higher taxes. I am sure it feels good to him and helps him justify his immense fortune. Unfortunately, he fails to put his money where his mouth is as both Bill Gates and Microsoft utilizes multiple tax havens to reduce its tax burden.
Google has promoted its mission as doing no evil while engaging in censorship and silencing opposition. Over the past few months, a Google programmer was fired for posting a manifesto designed to create a dialog about women in tech. This manifesto hurt some PC feelings and the author was fired. Even worse, a Google funded think tank was forced to terminate an academic for challenging Google’s status in the world.
Facebook claims moral superiority and covets the revenues that come with new media content being created on an hourly basis. It wants the traffic brought in by controversial content and “fake news” and yet is unwilling to accept any editorial responsibility for its content.
The danger that lies in corporate cause feeding is that we cannot escape it. We have no recourse and because of the burgeoning power and influence these corporations have, they are essentially becoming monopolies, controlling our access to information, our dissenting voices and eliminating options. This increased influence by corporations is the doorway to a new type of system more often than not portrayed in dystopian sci-fi novels and movies.
All of these corporations, from the NFL to Facebook, are opportunistic hypocrites. Eager to embrace causes not because they believe in them, but because the headlines read favorably. If these corporations were leaders, if they really believed in these causes they would not seek public approval, nor would they wait until others took the initial risks. They would act as leaders. They do not! They are cowards checking the direction of the wind before they take a stand.