To Hawthorn Friends & Family –

I thought you would find insightful a great analysis by Hawthorn’s Vice Chair Larry Walsh.  Environmental, social and governance has received much attention over the past few years, with many companies under pressure from their stakeholders to take public positions on the issue, while a growing number of conservative state and local markets are pushing back against “corporate wokeism”, including ESG.  ESG and other socially progressive issues are increasingly the focus of state political campaigns and of some 2024 presidential candidates.   Corporate leaders with an eye to their long-term survival will need to find ways to avoid being caught in the debate.

This opinion piece offers guidelines for how executives can stay close to stakeholders, make a strong business case for their decisions, and avoid political footballs — especially as a divided Congress makes state-level influence more important than ever to corporate policy and decision making.  I think we will see corporations take increasing care not to cross the “fine line” between corporate social responsibility and corporate social advocacy.