Cats and Theories
a blog by coticheque
a blog by coticheque

The hypocrisy of corporate activism

Nothing is more annoying and morally flawed than the corporate activism. Supporting diversity and LGBT rights during the Pride month, changing corporate LinkedIn logos to rainbow ones, using rainbow emojis in every other social media post, you know this stuff. There’s nothing bad in the support of LGBT or diversity per se, but the way how corporations do it as a part of their PR campaigns is just straight-away hypocritical. For instance, it’s a well-known fact that none of the multinational corporations, like BMW or Microsoft, ever expand their Pride campaigns to the Middle East (or Russian) branches. Pictures showing comparison of corporate logos at the LinkedIn pages across different locations have been circulating on the Internet for a while.

If companies were genuinely promoting and supporting the rights of LGBT and other minorities, they would be doing it everywhere, regardless of location, right? Or the rights of gay people in Middle East are less important than in the US? Why do corporations target locations where LGBT is already tolerated just fine? Because people in these locations would listen, while in others – won’t. And the outrage of customers, suppliers and other local stakeholders in Turkey, Middle East or China is not what any company would desire to experience.

The recent story that happened in Russia, where a local food retailer attempted to show an LGBT family in its ad, faced a massive public backlash* and shamefully deleted the ad later, publicly apologizing to its customers, proves the point. Corporate activism is morally flawed.

Perhaps the most striking example is comparison of how corporations organize their activist efforts within the European borders. For instance, let’s conduct an experiment and select a random sample of European companies: let’s take Accenture, ING and Deloitte, and go through the posts they shared on local LinkedIn pages in the UK, Germany and Poland over the past three months. Guess what? None of the companies have mentioned anything related to the Pride month or diversity on their Polish pages over the past months – just check it! Poland is neighboring with Czech Republic and Germany, yet the rights of Polish gay people are apparently less important than the rights of LGBT representatives in the other two countries.

And if companies were promoting cultural diversity as they claim to do in disclaimer of every job posting, they won’t be rejecting applicants based on their nationality. When I was searching for a job right after the graduation, a huge proportion of employers lost interest in my candidacy after finding out I don’t have a EU citizenship. Which is totally okay, bureaucracy and paperwork are annoying, but why would the same corporations claim that they employ candidates regardless of their ethnicity and nationality? Yeah, it’s fine to claim commitment to diversity, as long as this diversity applies only to a limited subset of people residing in a certain location. Committed to employ people of any color, but not ready to spend a couple of extra weeks to employ a person with a different color of a passport? Ah, classic.

And going back to the moral flaws of social activism, the same hypocrisy is equally widespread within another sphere – the climate change activist groups, such as Extinction Rebellion. For instance, none of these activist groups ever says a critical word towards China, the country producing the biggest amount of CO2 emissions in the world (in fact, twice as much as the US). Why? Because China won’t listen anyway. So the criticism naturally shifts to people in developed Western nations, where the amount of emissions has been steadily decreasing over the past decade. It’s easy to blame people who are ready to embrace the unrequested guilt, while it’s a pointless job and a waste of time and effort to try changing opinions of people who simply won’t care because of a different set of ethical priorities.

Let me finish this post by pretentiously citing a few quotes from the book about Nietzsche that I’ve been reading recently – in particular, on his quest to reveal hypocrisy of morals prevailing in the German society of his time, and his goal to:

…uncover how much hypocrisy, comfortableness, letting oneself go and letting oneself drop, how many lies are concealed under the most honoured type of contemporary morality, how much virtue is outlived. The so-called goodness of modern man is not virtuous, his so-called religion is not religious, and his so-called truths are not truthful.

Sounds familiar, all too familiar. Nothing really changed, except that religious lies were replaced by ideological. In the 19th century people were trying to maintain a moral facade of a good Christian, in the 20th century – of a proper communist, in 21st – of a brave social justice devotee.

Disclaimer: to avoid any accusations or misunderstandings, I declare that I support the rights of LGBT, and endorse the Ancient Greek model: where homosexual relationships were considered more superior than heterosexual ones. 

* Update as of 17/08/2021: the gay family featured in the ad had to flee the country after receiving multiple death threats. The marketing team responsible for the advertising campaign resigned.

I write about cats and theories. About the blog »