Clients 'shielding white supremacy' rejected by US consultancy

17 August 2017

In a new move, Arizona-based consultancy Spectrum Experience will refuse accounts from clients unwilling to voice public support for racial equality. The communications firm is taking widespread disapproval in the business world of President Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence a step further.

A consultancy with a specialist focus on governmental and political communications has announced its refusal to work with clients who don’t meet its racial equality standards. Spectrum Experience, a Tempe, Arizona-based professional services firm said actively promoting its progressive values outweighed a projected loss of business. 

The announcement comes in the wake of deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia that rocked the nation and generated global headlines. Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old protesting a joint march of ‘alt-right’, neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan members, was killed after far-right extremist James Alex Fields Jr ploughed his car into the crowd on August 12. 

A politically charged aftermath has seen President Donald Trump come under fire for denouncing violence “on all sides”, rather than specifically condemning the far-right. The corporate response has been sharp. The leaders of 3M and Campbell’s Soup resigned from the President’s new business advisory councils, forcing them to disband. CEO of JPMorgan, Jamie Dixon, released a firm statement expressing his disapproval of Trump’s reaction. 

Clients 'shielding white supremacy' rejected by US consultancy

Amid such high-profile condemnation of the President, Spectrum Experience is not isolated in its pledge to disavow clients or companies it believes are “shielding white supremacy”. Senior strategist Serah Blain said all clients had been notified on the anti-racism policy and will be expected to pass a litmus test of voicing their support for racial equality if given the opportunity on traditional or social media. According to Blain, the consultancy expected to lose “two or three” clients out of 30.

In a company statement, the firm said, “Spectrum Experience is committed to operating a humanist firm that works only with those who share our values. This doesn’t mean that we have full agreement on every issue with every client, but it does mean that we will not help a client work against humanist principles. Shielding White supremacy is, without a doubt, an act that works against humanism…

“Because of this, Spectrum Experience will not work with clients who are unwilling to oppose White supremacy, or to publicly state that Black lives matter. We know that many of our clients have already been doing this for quite some time, but we also know that some of you have shied away from public discussions on racism.”


Business reporting increasingly focused on sustainable development goals

18 April 2019

According to the prevailing scientific consensus, climate change, pollution and environmental degradation resulting from current economic models cannot be sustained without considerable effect on societies going forward. Purpose beyond profit is being expressed by businesses, while meeting global targets for sustainability is also being incorporated into wider business practices. Reporting on positive and negative business impacts remains poor, however.

The economy has, for decades, come first. The consequence of that mindset, particularly with poorly planned growth, has left future generations with large-scale problems. The scientific community has for decades warned of over-pollution and over-consumption, with many of the world’s largest businesses now grudgingly taking heed.

Climate change, biodiversity and waste are the current key issues, with the UN climate accord putting in place a maximum bound for human-induced warming. Loss of biodiversity and dealing with pollution remain major areas in which global protocols will be necessary to mitigate long-term negative impacts with little short-term gains.

While global-level, intergovernmental collective action will be necessary to transition to a sustainable economic model, the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) are a key port of call for businesses seeking to meet current sustainability criteria for their activities. A new report from PwC, titled ‘Reporting with Purpose and Impact’, explores how effectively companies are meeting SDG reporting goals – which show the increasingly social and enviro-conscious public whether a company is meeting the sustainability goals in its operational footprint.

Responsible business reporting increasingly focused on SDG

One key indicator of good reporting is a clear statement of purpose for the business as a whole. Concentrating solely on shareholder profit could have a negative impact on the public perception of a company – particularly if that profit appears to come at the expense of SDG goals themselves. A statement that includes the wider positive impact of a company, as well as the ways in which it mitigates its externalities, are increasingly seen as a necessary tool to improve public perception.

As such, the report shows that companies that have a wider social purpose to their existence tend to have a better public perception and a wider licence to operate in society. The study found that 47% of companies had a clear statement of purpose that aligned with their core business, while 45% of companies failed to have a clear statement of purpose.

The study notes that though reporting has historically focused on key social and environmental metrics (such as CO2 emissions), new reporting standards look at the whole footprint of companies across their entire value and supply chains – including subsidiaries, contractors, and suppliers.

The fuller accounting explores the whole impact of their activity on society and the environment, which makes it considerably harder to hide the effect of their suppliers or subsidiaries, which could have considerable environmental impact – even though the parent company has in theory “reduced its emissions to zero.” Furthermore, positive achievements like reducing poverty or improving quality of life needs to be considered in light of the long-term sustainability of that achievement. 

In the end, analysis of FTSE 350 reporting finds that companies are not clearly reporting their impacts on the environment, are not aligning their stated purpose with their environmental outcomes, and are largely focusing only on positive aspects of their impact, rather than the less flattering whole.