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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 16 settembre 2014 alle ore 16:53.
L'ultima modifica è del 15 ottobre 2014 alle ore 14:06.


For younger people today, using social media as a tool for activism is second nature. They are fluent in using , , , and to communicate and create a community around an idea, issue, or objection – and to nurture the growth of a small group into a mass movement. And older people are not far behind.

As corporate power rises, holding companies to account becomes increasingly important. The scope of accountability must expand as well, in order to affect the behavior of executives and non-executives alike. And companies’ board members will be increasingly held to account for how well they hold senior management to account.

With all of that comes a culture of questioning that which was previously unquestioned – including how companies are run and whether an organization’s actions are ethical. Any action can be questioned by anyone, and if others find it interesting or important, the question will spread – and not just within a small community or a specialist group, but more broadly and around the world.

This shift has changed the nature of activism and collective action. It has also made for new kinds of allies, with activist investors like tweeting their intentions and markets responding. Likewise, those who in other circumstances might see activist investors as natural adversaries can agree with the positions that they take, such as concerns about executive compensation or corporate social responsibility.

Activist investors can write open letters that may not be picked up by mainstream media outlets, but that can go viral on Twitter or Reddit. This is often enough to make boards and executive committees sit up and take notice.

Corporate leaders who embrace this new reality, view it as an opportunity, and resist the inclination to manage or avoid issues will have a competitive advantage. They will not regard meeting people where they are as a way to manipulate them, but as an opportunity to hear what they are saying. Their first impulse will not be to figure out how to use modern means of direct communication to persuade customers, employees, and other stakeholders to think and do the things that they want them to think and do. Instead, they will make real changes – and they will be better off for it.

Companies make our cars, our phones, and our children’s textbooks – and exercise increasing control over the daily lives and destinies of people worldwide, not only those who use their products, but also those who work for them and those who live in the communities where they are based. If companies do not take seriously the responsibility that comes with their great and growing power, people will be there to remind them.

Lucy P. Marcus is CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2014.


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