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David A. Katz and Laura A. McIntosh

Increasingly, corporations are finding themselves called upon to become—willingly or unwillingly—participants in a range of social and political controversies. While retail businesses long have been accustomed to consumer-driven activism such as boycotts and publicity campaigns, the current movement is significantly different. Today, institutional investors and other stakeholders are asking companies to take public stances on a wide array of topics, some of which may be wholly unrelated to the targeted company’s corporate purpose. Investment funds themselves are feeling this pressure, as they are being asked by their own investors to become activists on social issues, and the rapid pace of recent external events—combined with the impact of social media—can demand hasty statements or actions.

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