Home > Uncategorized > David Gelles’ NYTimes Article Lauds Corporate Morality… Overlooks Their Tax Evasion and Race to the Bottom on Employee Wages and Benefits

David Gelles’ NYTimes Article Lauds Corporate Morality… Overlooks Their Tax Evasion and Race to the Bottom on Employee Wages and Benefits

I am roughly halfway into David Gelles’ article, “The Moral Voice of Corporate America” and I am already feeling my blood pressure rising as he cites the likes of Jamie Dimon, Walmart CEO Doug Macmillan, and GM CEO Mary Barra as voices of moral authority. I AM pleased that CEOs across the nation spoke out against the President’s support for neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other assorted racist groups and I appreciate the bind this could potentially place them in. But, as Mr. Gelles effectively acknowledges, their decisions to speak out were ultimately grounded in pleasing their shareholders:

Diversity — of opinions, ideologies and religions — is what makes taking a stand on moral issues so treacherous for C.E.O.s. Yet paradoxically, it is also diversity — of races, genders and worldviews, among customers and the work force — that makes many of the executives, when forced to take a stand, come down on the side of inclusion, tolerance and acceptance.

Business leaders looking to the future are accepting that it is unwise to isolate swaths of the population by coming off as racist, sexist or intolerant. Instead, for the sake of the bottom line, it is imperative that they appeal to the widest possible audience. “Business leaders aren’t threatened by an America that is browner, an America that is more diverse; they welcome that,” Mr. Walker said. “Business leaders are bullish on diversity.”

What’s more, some executives have concluded that speaking out on issues of morality can improve more than their reputations — it can benefit recruitment, morale and even sales. “Our employees come here knowing that this is something that is extremely important to us,” said Mr. Benioff of Salesforce. “Business is the greatest platform for affecting change.”

I finished the article… and here’s my bottom line: if CEOs ever wanted to take a stand for diversity, they would not seek out tax breaks to build their factories or offices, they would not offshore their work, they would actively recruit employees from disadvantaged and disenfranchised minorities, and they would not lobby for or use tax loopholes that increase their profit. As long as CEOs honor shareholders more than citizens of our country, their moral voice is muted— perhaps beyond repair.

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