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The influential public relations firm Zeno has privately advised its corporate clients — including Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, Netflix, and Starbucks, four brands that routinely weigh in on hot-button social issues — to avoid publicly commenting on the Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a template email that the website Popular Information obtained.
The Template reads:
Do not take a stance you cannot reverse, especially when the decision is not final. This topic is a textbook “50/50” issue. Subjects that divide the country can sometimes be no-win situations for companies because regardless of what they do they will alienate at least 15 to 30 percent of their stakeholders… Do not assume that all of your employees, customers or investors share your view.
Do not engage with direct questions about your company’s position. Whether in direct messages or public-facing posts, do not respond to questions about where your company stands on this issue.
By making contentious political statements, corporations satisfy only a small portion of their customer base while alienating a much larger segment.
So there’s little doubt that taking a stance on divisive issues is not a wise business practice for corporations. Plus, few Americans turn to Coca-Cola and Starbucks on matters like abortion anyway.
While I don’t discourage individual workers from speaking out on polarizing topics, a corporation doing so has a decidedly negative impact on the workforce. Once a CEO releases a statement, employees who disagree with it then understand that they must stay silent or risk losing their job. Disney employees who are afraid to support the parental rights bill in Florida are just one example.
And because corporations always take the progressive side of the argument, the divide between the woke and the moderate and conservative employees grows ever wider as more and more people start to feel that their voice doesn’t matter.
Now despite Zeno’s advice, one of these corporations will still condemn the court for even thinking about overturning Roe and giving constitutional power back to the individual states. Zeno can make a recommendation, but it can’t stop Netflix — the most likely enterprise to speak out — from releasing a lengthy statement pledging fealty to abortion through all nine months of pregnancy and perhaps beyond.
After all, that’s the same platform that produced Cuties.
Zeno also warns that vulture-like journalists will “look for corporations to take a stand” on abortion. Good point. They are coming for your DMs…