News & Analysis: Executive Orders

A Fine Line

Every day many of us that work in corporate America file into our offices.  For most of us, there are security measures in place. The measure may be as simple as a badge we swipe to enter the building or it may be more complex.  The thing about the measure is that it applies to all. Whether you’re the CEO or the new intern, we all pass through the line and are subject to the same scrutiny.

Imagine, one morning, in going through the line, you are pulled out. You have your badge, the badge you’ve always used, but because of a new rule, one that says if you are a member of a specific group, you can no longer pass through the line. Instead, you have to go to a special room where you are subject to additional screening, just because you are a member of a specific group.

Would you feel humiliation in being pulled from the line? Do you think you would feel differently about your job? Would you feel differently about your colleagues that are not subject to the additional screening? Would you be more or less likely to feel loyalty to your company? Would your performance suffer?

It is easy to think that the events going on in the US don’t impact us. It is also wrong. You are the guardians of your company’s conscience. You have a duty to your company to ensure that values embraced by your company are non-negotiable and apply to all. Extra screening, or extreme vetting, would not pass muster in your companies. Nor should it pass muster in our country.

On Being Apolitical

Politics. One word that elicits a broad swath of emotions. On one extreme, it is something to be avoided at all costs. On the other, it is something which must be mastered to succeed. Between those two extremes is a chasm – one that many try to navigate around rather than cross through.

Sometimes, however, you have to cross the chasm. Now is one of those times.

ACCP is not a political organization. We are apolitical. We do not lobby; we do not endorse candidates; we do not take positions. We exist as a resource to ensure that those doing the work of Corporate Responsibility professionals can have the greatest impact possible on both society and their organizations. We recognize that corporations and the people that run them have varying political opinions and those opinions, for the most part, do not intersect with the roles of our members. Except when they do, like now.

The Executive Order issued Friday, January 27, 2017 by President Trump severely restricts immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and bars all Syrian refugees indefinitely. The order has thrown the lives of many into chaos and some into outright jeopardy.

Why should this matter to you? The majority of companies in the US have rightly embraced diversity and inclusion as a means to drive innovation. They recognize it is not only the right thing to do morally, it is the right thing to do for the business. Companies that have embraced inclusiveness are more successful. Research has consistently shown that diverse groups (race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups. Different perspectives offer new ways of thinking and new information. By interacting respectfully with individuals that are different than ourselves, we are better prepared and better equipped to make decisions. The same can be said for countries.

We cannot be idle in the face of discriminatory practices – whether by our companies or our government. Nor, can we allow terrorism and peddlers of fear to drown out voices of reason and responsibility. The consequences of this action will be far reaching if allowed to stand. More concerning is the precedent set.

I don’t know if we are on the verge of history repeating itself or not. I do know that every one of our voices needs to be heard and that the values we hold dear in our companies must be echoed, not diluted, by our government.


Mark Shamley
President & CEO