One of the most remarkable moments in the emergence of corporate social consciousness over the last few years was when Dick’s Sporting Goods made the surprise decision to stop selling assault-style rifles after the Parkland shootings. The backlash from NRA members was swift and severe. But Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s, was determined. In his new autobiography—It’s How We Play the Game: Build a Business. Take a Stand. Make a Difference—he says the tragic shootings made him realize that, as one of the four biggest U.S. sellers of firearms, his company was “part of the problem.” And he wanted to become part of the solution.
In an interview with Fortune’s Phil Wahba, Stack says he is not looking back. Indeed, he’s removed guns altogether from 125 of his 727 stores. And he says the whole hunting business is up for “strategic review.” Read that: stay tuned for further action.
“We sold that kid in Parkland a shotgun,” he said emotionally (although it wasn’t the weapon used in the massacre.) “He should never have been able to buy a shotgun from us.” You can read more from Phil’s interview here.
And since it is Friday, some feedback. My Tuesday post on the Business Roundtable’s letter to Elizabeth Warren drew some skepticism. This from J.H.:
“When the first BRT Member Company’s annual report shows that senior-level executive compensation is based on well-defined, measurable outcomes over specific periods of time related to stakeholder values, then I might consider those behind the statement to be sincere.”
And this from D.G.:
“The BRT’s letter points to the fact that ‘MANY of our companies have taken steps to increase their own minimum wage’ [emphasis added)… Oh boy! You mean that you’ve announced that the nature of capitalism has shifted towards all stakeholders and yet the entire group, no wait, not even MOST of the entire group has led on the minimum wage issue?”
As I’ve said here before, there is a level of seriousness among business leaders on these issues today that is qualitatively different from anything I’ve seen in the past four decades. But there also is an unprecedented level of public cynicism. Climbing over that mountain of mistrust won’t be easy.
More news below.