How companies should handle political pressure

We see it nearly daily. A representative of a company says something controversial in their personal time, or is discovered to have attended a meeting or donated their personal money to some group or cause that isn’t quite politically correct, and then the professionally offended organize, protest and bully that business into giving in to whatever demands.


I was excited to see, however, that UPS did what I consider to be the right thing.

When Cecil the Lion was hunted and killed, it created an outrage across the country. One of the results of that outrage was that people demanded shipping companies refuse to ship big-game trophies (elephant tusks, rhino heads, etc.) around the world.

Delta and American Airlines, among others, gave in to the demands. But UPS took a different stance.

A UPS spokesperson declared that shipments of hunting trophies is still allowed on UPS because they follow US and international laws in deterring what it will and won’t ship.

This from the Washington Post:

“There are many items shipped in international commerce that may spark controversy,” UPS public relations director Susan Rosenberg wrote in an e-mail. “The views on what is appropriate for shipment are as varied as the audiences that hold these views.

“UPS takes many factors under consideration in establishing its shipping policies, including the legality of the contents and additional procedures required to ensure compliance. We avoid making judgments on the appropriateness of the contents. All shipments must comply with all laws, including any relevant documentation from the shipper required in the origin and destination location of the shipments.”

Though it is certainly their right, it’s not up to companies to determine what’s socially acceptable. They’re there to provide a service or sell things people want to purchase, regardless of political stance. In other words, commerce is not, inherently, political.

The marketplace works. Let people speak with their wallets, not picket signs. If you want to take a stand on against (or for) a company, buy or recommend their services or products.


This entry was posted in general thoughts, marketing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply