Survey: Businesses walk a fine line when speaking out about politics

The poll of hundreds of U.S. adults finds that younger consumers want bolder stances on social issues, but companies risk alienating half their customer base by taking a public position.    

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Should companies take a public stand on political issues?

There’s a saying that business and politics don’t mix. However, in this polarized environment, businesses increasingly find themselves wrestling with that very question. A new survey sheds light on that dilemma.

This is not about Patagonia supporting the environment or Google opposing the repeal of Net Neutrality. In such cases, there’s a very clear impact on business, and one could argue that businesses are obligated in those cases to enter the fray.

Given the sharp divisions in the U.S. today, other social stands are fraught with consequences.

An October survey of 263 adult Americans seeks to bring objectivity and context to this business decision about politics.

The key findings follow:

1. Most say organizations should stay clear of politics. Nearly half (49 percent) of overall respondents say organizations should not weigh in on political issues. About one-third say they believe organizations should get involved, and another 22 percent are unsure. Sentiment analysis around this question suggests context matters.

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