Sweeney took the opportunity to clarify Zeno’s own stance on abortion rights: “We believe in equal access to health care for all, and a woman’s right to make decisions about her health care,” she wrote in an email. “At the same time, we live in a world with different opinions and different views and we respect those differences.”
Judd Legum, the founder of Popular Information who also ran the former progressive news website ThinkProgress, noted in the article that Zeno’s advice to clients seemed to contradict its persona as a socially conscious company that, for example, in March 2021—just ahead of International Women’s Day—advocated on its website for “making a commitment to a gender equal world.”
Zeno employs more than 200 people at its Chicago offices, according to its website, and has operations across the U.S., Asia and Europe. The midsized firm counts Netflix, Kraft Heinz brands, Salesforce, Kia Motors, Hershey’s and Coca-Cola as clients among an impressive list that includes other Fortune 500 companies. It generated $75 million in revenue in 2018, according to its parent, Daniel J. Edelman Holdings. The holding company also owns Edelman, the world’s largest public relations consultancy by revenue, which has headquarters in Chicago and New York
Some of Zeno’s core services include strategic planning, creative production, performance communication, media consulting, crisis communications and reputation management.
“Given the world we live in and the need for business to be more and do more, our purpose is embedded in our everyday actions and inspires all that we do for our clients and ourselves to make a positive impact on people's lives and in society,” Zeno says of its mission on its website.
Edelman Holdings, which has owned Zeno since it was created in 1998, did not comment on the situation. Sibling Edelman made headlines for social advocacy when it joined a list of 60 companies that wrote a letter opposing Texas’ policy of initiating child abuse investigations against parents who allow their children to receive gender-reaffirming surgery.
One of Edelman’s flagship products is its Trust Barometer report, an annual trust and credibility survey that is meant to serve as a guide for businesses, governments, NGOs and media.
One of the report’s top 10 findings, according to a document posted on Edelman’s website, is that “societal leadership is now a core function of business.” It further states: “When considering a job, 60% of employees want their CEO to speak out on controversial issues they care about and 80% of the general population want CEOs to be personally visible when discussing public policy with external stakeholders or work their company has done to benefit society.”
Elyssa Cherney is a reporter for Crain's Chicago Business. Ad Age contributed to this report.
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CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misidentified Katie Cwayna's position at Fox News. This story has also been updated to correct the relationship between Edelman and Zeno Group.