I don't think there has ever been a time in my fifty years in industry that I have seen more potential hazards distracting us from our primary purpose in business which is, of course (all together), "spinning the invoice printer." We have been forced to step beyond the traditional corporate responsibilities (environment, regulations, equal opportunity employment and so forth).
The general public sees industry as a bottomless pot of money. At the same time, they have a disconnect between the prices they pay for goods and services and this bottomless pot of money. They simply do not realize for everything they take out of the pot, prices must go up.
Income and property taxes paid by company are a good example of the lack of understanding. All taxes paid by corporations are eventually paid by consumers buying goods and services--the only source of money a company has. Politicians paint corporations as evil beings that must be taxed while exactly the opposite is true--a company producing a good or service is absolutely the only place wealth is produced in an economy. Even the stock market does not produce wealth--the stock market only values the possible wealth a company producing goods or services will potentially earn in the future.
So, healthy corporations are absolutely vital in the modern world. The more money that is taken away from them via government fiat, the weaker they are. The more direct time they must spend on social issues, the weaker they are.
In today's world, corporate executives and others are spending a lot of time on distractions. I am not saying the distractions, in the sense of the whole society, are not important, but perhaps it would be better if we didn't put such demands on the only wealth generators in society as we do today.
Logos are being torn up (maybe they should be, I am not passing judgement on that), products are being threatened with boycotts (maybe they should be, it is stupid for a CEO of any company to endorse any politician) and employees are demanding companies not sell their products to certain sectors of society (taking the CEO's time to answer this concern). All these matters take time away from our primary purpose as businesspeople.
Of course, it is just not the public time that is seen that is robbed by these issues. How much behind the scenes time, how much brainpower, must be exerted to craft appropriate answers that keeps the business functioning as optimally as it can? If we could measure this drag on business, I suspect one would be surprised how large it is.
The bottom line is this. The leaders' jobs today have become tougher than ever. Balancing all the pieces to run a successful business and stay away from the wrath of society in general is a tall order. It is a responsibility we have to society in many ways, including this important one we must not miss: successful businesses are the only wealth creator in existence in the modern world. It is our moral duty.
And do not forget safety. We always have a big job here, no matter what else is going on.
Be safe and we will talk next week.