When Business Gets Political: How to Plan for Hot-Button Issues

Explore the new age of corporate social responsibility, extreme politics and consumer activism
60 minutes
Thursday Jun 23, 2022 1:00 PM EDT
Rocks balance on a tight rope.

Once upon a time, businesses were exempt from public debate. No one expected McDonald’s, Disney, Canadian Tire or any other company to weigh in on the big issues of the day. But not anymore. From the war in Ukraine to Black Lives Matter, customers are demanding that the companies they do business with speak up and take a side.

Welcome to the new age of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Thanks to deep political divisions and social media, companies are now being asked to tackle polarizing issues and oppose unpopular government laws. This new world poses many challenges and questions for leaders: When should your company speak out on social issues? Can you stay neutral? What are the risks of not standing up when customers demand it? 

Featuring an all-star panel of CSR and marketing experts: Jacob Brower, associate professor of marketing at Smith School of Business; Melody Gaukel, senior vice-president at Proof Strategies; and Paul Klein, founder and CEO of impakt and author of the new book Change For Good.

Participants explore:

  • How CSR has evolved to include social and political issues
  • The link between social and financial performance
  • How companies are incorporating social impact into their marketing strategies
  • Why consumers are demanding companies take action on issues of the day
  • The opportunities and challenges of speaking up (when to do so, and when not to)
  • How to make sure your public statements are in line with your brand and CSR strategy

This webinar was recorded live on Thursday, June 23 at 1 p.m. EDT.

Subscribe to the Insight Newsletter

Keep up with the latest in Smith thought leadership, faculty research, and more.


Smith School of Business

Goodes Hall, Queen's University
Kingston, Ontario
Canada K7L 3N6

Follow us on:

Queen's logo