Big Business and Political Clout. What is the civic responsibility for large corporations?

In March, I wrote an article, “How The Toy Industry Can Support Our Asian-American Friends.” Due to the industry’s long standing relationship with Asia, I called for the toy industry to openly support the Asian-American community. In the following week, Mattel made a strong statement supporting the Asian-American community, a community that has experienced a number of anti-Asian attacks.

Such corporate activism has been in the news lately. Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and Major League Baseball have taken positions against Georgia’s recent changes to its voter laws.

Is business’s engagement with politics and government new? Well, yes and no. Business, particularly “Big Business,” has long been involved in giving campaign donations. What seems to be different now is that companies are taking open positions on issues that do not directly impact their businesses. They act on what they see as issues that are important to the national social fabric.

Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of J.P Morgan Chase & Company has just issued his annual Letter to Shareholders. J.P. Morgan is the largest bank in the United States and the seventh-largest in the world. His yearly letter is highly anticipated, and this year he spent a great deal of time on the need for businesses to be “responsible community citizens nationally, or globally.” He argues that government has gotten slow and non-responsive, and it is necessary for the business community to get involved.

Just how much clout does the business community have? One way to look at it is to see just how big some of these companies are. With that in mind, consider this C.S.A. headline: “Study: Amazon could exceed $500 billion in revenue.”

Amazon is not alone atop the $500 billion mark. According to Forbes, Walmart generated $559 billion in 2020 revenue.

With that in mind, I wanted to see where Amazon and Walmart would rank if they were nations. I compared their revenue numbers to the national GDP for the world’s most developed companies. Based upon that calculation, Amazon and Walmart would come in at number 24 in a list of 190 countries, right in there with Belgium, Poland, and Sweden.

If Jamie Dimon’s worldview gains traction, look for more businesses to use their size and clout to sway the public on governance and political issues. Does the toy industry have a responsibility to get involved in political and social issues? What do you think?

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