Is Politics toxic to Your Business?

Mixing Politics and Business

Have you seen this week how politics can be toxic in business?

Most of us have opinions, right? 

It seems that political posts top the list for people being unfriended on social media, with religion in second place.

I have had more than one mentor and trainer advise against mixing politics and religion on social media.

Did I always comply – No, not at all.

But over the last couple of weeks, we have seen some interesting results.

Starbucks: dream roper

On Jan 29, 2017, Forbes reported 

Howard Schultz is adding his voice to those who are alarmed and upset by President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration — and he’s upping the ante on corporate responses, vowing to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years.

This position got a lot more controversial and seemed to draw in Starbucks employees rejecting customers who supported President Trump.

Also reported was

Starbucks CEO: “If you support traditional marriage, DON’T buy our coffee”

It appears that the company has taken a financial hit from the position that Shultz placed Starbucks.

Another study performed by the Swiss financial services company Credit Suisse stated that Starbucks’ comments had negatively impacted sales and damaged the company’s brand.

Well, Howard Shultz is no longer CEO of Starbucks, do you think maybe the shareholders had enough?

It would appear that heads of companies consider the expression of their political opinions trumps the rights of the shareholders.

dream roperCamping World

Camping World is a very visible NASCAR sponsor and their CEO Mark Lemonis, as reported by CNBS, made the following comment last weekend

Marcus Lemonis: If you’re OK with what Trump said, don’t shop at my business

On Sunday, I saw a mass exodus of RVs of all descriptions leaving the NASCAR event in Bristol, TN. It would appear that the half of the country who voted for Trump would probably be buyers of significantly more than half of Camping Worlds sales.

I also noticed, when driving by the Spartanburg SC Camping World location, the very large American flag proudly waving out front. This seemed to me to be ironic when their CEO challenged anyone who associated with the American President to not shop there.

Now, what does that have to do with you and me, and why should I care.

Well, this is not a political post but it is a business post.

If you represent a business, especially a business you own, it seems to me to be foolhardy to alienate 50% of your potential customers.

On the other hand, I have a business and networking friend who holds political views opposite to mine. We have agreed to disagree respectfully and I value his friendship.

Unfortunately not all political disagreements on social media turn out as well.

Yes, and sometimes I waste time by commenting on what I feel to be foolish statements showing up in my Facebook news feed. While I do not make political posts, I guess that doesn’t stop me from commenting, right? But it does waste my time, and do I really feel that I change anyone’s mind in challenging their opinion? No.


In summary,

the intent of this post is to caution any of my friends who are using social media for business to avoid political posts, to avoid alienating a portion of their customer base.

I do admit that some of the things we see politicians do and say makes it hard to refrain from laughing, but what seems really funny and strange to me may seem normal to someone else.

In this economy, when more and more of us are turning to building a business from home and using the internet as a business tool, wouldn’t we would be wise to learn from the mis-steps of those “corporate giants”?

Maybe it’s time to post more animal and vacation stuff….

Wishing you success in using Social Media.

Ron McLean, the Dream Roper

Helping You Lasso Your Dreams

cell/text: 864-404-6696

PS: Come and visit me at Work with Ron if I can help you

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