Article by Christine Coyne
Your average Babson student does not get involved in the dirty world of politics for one simple and very common misconception: business and politics do not and should not mix. This idea is widely accepted across classrooms and conference tables, but the past year has proved that this idea
is far from the truth, and in fact, the two arenas are deeply intertwined. Americans are living through a transformational moment in history where politics is directly influencing corporate decision making. No matter what side of the aisle you stand on it is evident that Nike’s decision to sign Colin Kaepernick on a multi-year contract and REI’s decision to cut ties with the NRA was never solely a business decision. It was political.
American businessman and proud Babson alum Arthur M. Blank addresses the significance of this moment in his new book Good Company. Blank mentions that a business “can unexpectedly find itself balancing precipitously over a cultural fault line.” He includes companies, like Starbucks and Google, working to prioritize human rights over business operations. It is not a simple decision, but Blank believes that values-based leadership is essential to address these issues because “we no longer live in a world where business can keep itself separate from social and political concerns.”
Whether you’ve already voted or you plan to cast your vote this week, please ask yourself what kind of leadership you hope to see over the next four years. Arthur M. Blank’s six core leadership principles have successfully guided the companies and programs through tumultuous times. America needs a leader that approaches challenges with a value-driven mindset. We need a president that is willing to meet the moment and respond to the American people with empathy and compassion. As outlined in Good Company, we need someone similar to our very own Arthur M. Blank who leads by Putting People First, Listening and Responding, Including Everyone, Innovating Continuously, Leading by Example, and finally, Giving Back to Others. There is one presidential candidate that exemplifies these core values.
Over the past few weeks, the country has seen record-breaking levels of youth voter turnout. High school and college students are showing up and voters are voicing their longing for values-based leadership. If you have not yet voted in-person or by mail, you still have time. Go to iwillvote.com to make sure you are registered to vote. As a voter today and a future leader tomorrow, ask yourself the same question Arthur M. Blanks asks businesses across the country.
“How will we participate in this moment in history? How can we, as a team and as a business, respond to these momentous issues with grace and diplomacy”?