If there's any doubt about that, David Osteen, executive director of the National Right to Life Committee, dispels it. He points to the example of Citibank, which has offered to pay traveling expenses for employees in Texas who need to go to another state for an abortion. "We've already seen some pressure at some companies," he says.
"It's very easy to change credit cards," he adds. "They should think long and hard about deeply offending tens and tens of millions of people in this country. And shareholders should take a look, too."
McDonald’s was one of many companies that either didn’t respond to a request for comment or declined to comment.
But, because of its widely known brand and global reach, McDonald’s is a good example of a large corporation repeatedly caught in the crosshairs of social and international issues not ordinarily associated with business.
The Chicago-based company began rolling out initiatives and setting goals for itself after George Floyd’s murder sparked calls for corporate diversity reform across America. It tied executive pay to diversity measures and launched a $250 million push to diversify its franchisee ranks. Still, it was hit with lawsuits from Black franchisees alleging discrimination.
It didn’t stop there. CEO Chris Kempczinski came under fire late last year when text messages he had sent to Mayor Lori Lightfoot came to light. Just as society called for racial justice and understanding, he said in a text that the parents of two children shot and killed in Chicago “failed those kids.”
Then, in February, after Russia invaded Ukraine, McDonald’s took heat for hesitating to shut down its Russian stores. It closed them in early March, but only after customers and investors pressured it to do so.
Numerous companies including State Farm and Boeing responded to the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by pausing donations to members of Congress who had voted against certifying the 2020 presidential election results. But months later, they and most other companies taking that stance resumed donating to those lawmakers.
Like it or not, bosses must deftly navigate the divisiveness gripping America. It’s now part of the job description for a CEO.
Contributing: Ally Marotti of Crain's Chicago Business