Fighting Corporate Bias, One Annual Meeting at a Time

Call CEOs Out Directly and Publicly!
April 22, 2021

Here at Shareholder Equity Alliance, our guiding principle is simple: Let business do business. When corporate bias kicks in and businesses get in the business of politics, they lose sight of their purpose. And just what is their purpose? To provide value to customers via the goods and services they sell. At baseline, when customers like what publicly-traded companies sell, their stock value increases. This is the core of letting businesses do business.

Today, too many corporations are leaving their mission and vision at the wayside for some politically-defined “higher purpose.” In order to fend off PR crises on Twitter and political activists who have invaded their boardroom, too many corporations have calculated that it’s better for them to bow to political pressures than to continue to simply do business. But when non-political investors exert pressure to bring companies back to politically neutral ground, those calculations must readjust.

Who are these non-political investors? Well, one of them is you.

Corporate Bias & Double Standards at Disney

If you own one share of a publicly traded company, you have the power to call out corporate politics during the company’s annual meeting. Being a shareholder who votes is the first step to battling corporate activism, and it is a critical one. But the next step for shareholders who are unhappy with a company’s direction is to join the annual meetings. There, you can directly call out the executives making politicized statements and decisions. 

In 2020 and 2021 annual meetings, engaged shareholders asked good questions. Why are corporations supporting some political spending but cutting off others? Why are some charity organizations getting millions of dollars, and others de-platformed? Most recently, one shareholder posed a question of the Disney CEO that had Americans wondering the same thing.

The question came after Disney fired actress Gina Carano from “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ for a series of tweets. Many Americans noticed the baldfaced hypocrisy streaming from Disney’s executives, and they were furious. After all, Disney fired Carano for comparing “cancel culture” to Nazi Germany, but they turned a blind eye to a similar comparison from Carano’s co-star Pedro Pascal. The only difference? Disney executives agreed with one of their political views, but not the other. 

Disney’s blatant political firing of an actress who holds differing viewpoints is completely unacceptable. In America, we once prided ourselves for being an expansive melting pot of political, ideological and cultural backgrounds. But with corporate activism on the rise, cancelling diverse viewpoints has seeped into every level of every industry. 

Speaking Up to Push Back

But not every investor let Disney get away with this kind of imbalanced cancel culture. “It’s clear there’s a new blacklist punishing conservatives in the entertainment industry. Disney+ actors Pedro Pascal and Gina Carano tweeted similar analogies of current political events to Nazi Germany. Yet only Carano… was fired from ‘The Mandalorian.’ Disney and the blacklist: This is the way?” David W. Almasi, a bold investor, asked the Disney CEO during their annual shareholder meeting. 

“Most shareholder meetings reserve time for such questions. It’s a unique opportunity for average Americans to address CEOs and other high-ranking executives in front of their boards of directors, other executives, investors, and the media. The price of admission is as little as owning one share of the company’s stock,” Almasi writes

This is a great example of how an engaged and informed shareholder can show up to courageously voice your values in annual meetings. It’s not every day you can go toe to toe with the CEO of a massive corporation and question their business decisions. Take a stand and join those meetings. Pose the questions that other shareholders, employees and customers across the nation wish they could ask themselves. All it takes is one person to stand up to launch the pendulum back in the other direction and bring companies back to neutral.