Businesses pledge money, support for refugeess following Trump immigration ban
A popular brand's opposition to the president's immigration orders carries the risk of consumer backlash, says a marketing professor.
Starbucks says it will hire 10,000 refugees in the coming years.
Google says it has started a $4 million "crisis fund" to defend its employees.
And the ACLU announced that over the weekend, it raised six times the amount of money it usually does in an entire year.
While President Donald Trump’s actions to build a wall along the Mexican border and ban refugees from entering the U.S. have sparked protests around the world, they have also prompted businesses to pledge millions of dollars to protect their workers, and ordinary Americans to open their wallets to support immigrant advocacy groups.
From a marketing standpoint, companies taking a stand against Trump's immigration orders are taking a calculated risk.
"Obviously, there is a concern about the issue of backlash," said Professor David Griffith, chair of the Department of Marketing at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. "We're seeing greater consumer activism. Consumers are becoming more reactionary."
Griffith points to the negative reaction to Starbucks' announcement about hiring refugees. A group of Twitter users objecting to the company's position started a #BoycottStarbucks campaign. By Monday morning, it was the highest trending topic on Twitter.
Still, it's not unusual for a brand to take a political stand on a controversial issue.
"I think that every organization has to look at its core values and take a position aligned to its core values," Griffith said.
Such expressions of opposition to Trump's orders have yielded a financial boon for the ACLU, whose attorneys fanned out to airports around the country over the weekend to help the hundreds of people detained by the immigration ban.
In one weekend, it raised more than $24 million in online contributions. CNN reported that the group usually raises about $4 million in a year.
The U.S. is "a nation of immigrants" that historically has welcomed refugees to its shores, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero noted onCNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS.
"Refugees in particular are among the most vulnerable individuals, and the idea that we would try to shut them out because of the fear-mongering, the xenophobia that President Trump has now engaged in, we find very troubling," he said.
Ridesharing company Lyft announced Sunday it was donating $1 million over the next four years to the ACLU, while Microsoft and the workplace software app, Slack, are promising to match donations to the organization.
Nike CEO Mark Parker didn't pledge a donation to any advocacy group, but issued a statement to the company's employees to assure them that Nike "celebrates the power of diversity" and opposes the Trump orders.
"And I know we're all asking what this means for our future, for our friends, our families and our broader community," Parker wrote.
Likewise, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford Jr. and CEO Mark Fields said in a statement to employees that the company opposes what it calls a new U.S. travel ban.
"We do not support this policy or any other that goes against our values as a company," they wrote.
Tech giants in SilconValley are joining the charge, too, donating cash and vowing shelter for refugees, CNBC reported.
Airbnb’s CEO said the home-sharing service would provide free housing to refugees and anyone outside their home country who is denied entry to the U.S.
In announcing Starbucks' plans to hire 10,000 refugees in 75 countries where the coffee giant does business, CEO Howard Schultz wrote in a letter to employees that the Seattle-based company will neither "stand by, nor stand silent" in the face of Trump's actions.
"We are living in an unprecedented time, one in which we are witness to the conscience of our country, and the promise of the American Dream, being called into question," Schultz wrote.In the U.S., the focus of hiring efforts will be on those immigrants who aided the U.S. military as interpreters or other support staff, he said.
Local businesses are also joining in.
Philadelphia-based bakery The Baker's Jar promised to donate 25 percent of its proceeds Sunday to the ACLU, and a startup app, NeedsList, is looking to connect refugee communities to the help they need.
In New York City, a delivery company that employs only refugee chefs says it's going to keep doing what it does.
Manal Kahi, CEO and cofounder of Offbeat, told Metro that the six chefs it employs from Syria, Eritrea, Nepal and Guinea planned to discuss any further action they might take. For now, they'll continue serving dishes of their home countries.
"What we have been doing is highlighting the fact that refugees have a lot to contribute to the country, and they have a lot of value," Kahi said. "The best thing we can do right now is to keep doing what we're good at, what we're best at, which is keep cooking amazing food and keep presenting amazing flavor from around the world."