Even the Beano last week ditched Fatty in favor of Freddy in case the old name creates the unfortunate impression of supporting one body shape over another. The list is lengthened increasingly. Hardly a week goes by without one big company or another trying to score a few points for diversity or inclusion.
Of course, on some level, there is nothing wrong with that. Businesses need to evolve over time and reflect changes in society. No one would think that mortgage ads should only feature white or straight people, or that detergent ads should only show mothers doing laundry, or that boardrooms shouldn’t represent a lot of different communities. Even so, there are two big problems with the trend towards enlightened capitalism.
First, it is usually run by a small group of activists and does not reflect dominant views. Companies are under a lot of pressure from lobby groups, social media campaigns, and often offices filled with politically correct 20 years and older, to take a stand on trendy causes.
But while these bands can be very good at creating a lot of noise, their support is often very thin. If in doubt, just ask Sir Keir Stamer how the adoption of all forms of liberal left-wing activism worked at the polls (even in so-called left-wing London, where a Tory won 45% of the vote. final for the mayor).
CEOs may think they change over time. In fact, they could just alienate many of their major customers. Just because someone isn’t arguing on Twitter all day doesn’t mean they’re not buying anything from you. For every “awakened” customer you attract, you risk losing five “traditional” customers. It is hardly good for business.
Second, it’s a distraction. Focusing on political issues is often a great way to prevent anyone from paying attention to whatever is going on in the company.