Board members come under fire from shareholders all the time over their fiscal responsibilities but now there’s a new battle brewing in the boardroom: Social issues like gay rights.
How the board manages a company’s money is of direct interest to shareholders. But how important is it for a board member to agree with a company’s policies on social issues if they are going to sit on the board? Will a contradiction have broader implications for clients, customers, and shareholders of both organizations?
Reactions to companies’ support of gay rights have been mixed: Goldman Sachs lost an unnamed client after CEO Lloyd Blankfein publicly endorsed same-sex marriage in a video, though Goldman said it has no plans to change its position on same-sex marriage. JCPenney came under fire from a conservative group called “One Million Moms,” a division of the American Family Association, after it chose openly gay TV host Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson. One Million Moms had threatened to boycott the retail chain but later backed down after it found itself under fire for its position.
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