Every company wants to adhere to its values but occasionally that’s not so easy. When CVS banned tobacco sales, it was forecast to be a $1 billion revenue hit. When Dick’s Sporting Goods raised the minimum age to purchase guns and also stopped selling high-capacity magazines, conventional wisdom was that much of their customer-base would flee and shop elsewhere. But what was the decision-making process inside these companies and how did they have the courage to make such moves?
- Joanne Dwyer, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, CVS Health
- Jennifer Moreau, Senior Director of Communications, Dick’s Sporting Goods
- Carrie Kurlander, VP, Communications and Public Affairs, Chick-fil-A (Moderator)
This panel observed Chatham House Rules, which state that participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker, nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. The following summary complies with the rules.
Each company on the panel took a risk in asserting values that would not necessarily align with all of their customers and employees.
Common traits included:
- Leadership on the issue came directly from each of the represented company CEOs, based on their strong, personal convictions, and were not based on profit motives.
- Each case involved timely social issues with broad implications, plus significant media attention.
- None of the brands has suffered long-term revenue losses based on the actions taken.
Lessons learned: What actions helped these companies through?
- Dialogue with detractors and opponents.
- Proactive communication with employees and particularly the supply chain.
- Tying the actions to stated values, and taking the time to reaffirm them in this new context while tying them to the business.
In their own words:
“What we didn’t expect was our own customers responding to negative commentary on social media faster than we could get our own engines to respond.“
“What we didn’t expect was all the customers coming in to say ‘thank you’.”
“Two-thirds of consumers say it’s important for companies to take a stand on social issues. Half of consumers worldwide classify themselves as ‘belief-driven buyers.’ Belief-driven buyers mean business.”