Corporate America, Wearing its Heart on its Sleeve

We admire and support brands with heart here at 214. What a company stands for — its purpose and values — directly influences which brands people admire as well as buy. When words like “authenticity” are gaining buzzword status, it’s heartening to see so many companies truly living out these values. So many leaders have given voice and taken action because people’s lives and liberties — their employees and others — have been threatened.

This week alone, it’s been nothing short of phenomenal to witness the corporate brands holding to their personal and company values by standing against Trump’s refugee ban. Many have taken to social media to denounce the ban and offer what recompense they can. On Twitter, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced the company’s plan to hire 10,000 refugees worldwide over the next 5 years in an effort to continue ‘Living our Values.’ Similarly, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky opened the site’s homes (and heart) to affected refugees in need of a home. Ford CEO Mark Fields denounced the ban as going “against our values as a company,” and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey described the ‘real and upsetting’ impact of the ban.

The list goes on: Google’s Sergey Brin showed up at the SFO protest on Sunday; Lyft cofounders contributed $1MM to the ACLU to ‘defend our constitution;’ Netflix CEO Reed Hastings lamented that Trump’s actions ‘pain us all.’ The always-impressive SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff distilled this emotion with his call to remember our humanity in his tweet:

‘When we close our hearts & stop loving other people as ourselves (MK 12:31) we forget who we truly are — -a light unto the nations.”

Clearly many major brands are taking a stand, but they aren’t the only ones showing heart. An experience for me that hit closer to home was on my way home from work, using my favorite New York City car service, Via ($5 from Soho to Harlem, anyone?) when I received an email from the brand. They offered free legal service to affected drivers AND riders, because “We’re all Via-istas, and we all ride together.” I chat to Via drivers frequently en route, consistently impressed by the praise and love they have for the company and its respectful treatment of its employees. I buy what they do, but I also buy — and support — why they do it.

I have been blown away by the steps and risks taken by all of these companies. Not just because of the courage it takes to stand up for what you believe, and to bear any potential economic repercussions for those actions, but because these brands showed themselves for what they truly are — empathic, relevant, brands with heart.