Rice U. expert: Increased pressure from employees moves companies to engage on social issues


David Ruth

Jeff Falk

Rice U. expert: Increased pressure from employees moves companies to engage on social issues

HOUSTON – (Aug. 6, 2018) – Nike’s first “Just Do It” ad narrated by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is scheduled to air during the NFL season opener tonight as well as during the U.S. Open tennis tournament and other major sporting events. The campaign with Kaepernick is part of a growing trend of businesses being much more vocal about social issues, according to a management and organizational behavior expert at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business.

Credit: 123RF.com/Rice University

Scott Sonenshein, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management, said this stems partly from increased pressure from companies’ employees to be engaged in debates about social issues. He is available to discuss the issue with the news media.

“We’ve seen several examples of companies taking stances on issues they would have shied away from in the past,” Sonenshein said. “Part of this also reflects a failure of government institutions to take action on social issues in the ways that are endorsed by the business community and their stakeholders. And part of this also reflects a failure of our political system to effectively address issues, especially around protecting minority interests. For better and for worse, businesses are becoming major players in weighing in on social issues and shaping policies in ways that are much more overt then they’ve been in the past. Nike’s example is appealing to the values of some of its key stakeholders and represents yet another example of a company willing to potentially alienate some customers, while appealing to others.”

Sonenshein teaches courses in organizational behavior, change and leadership. His research employs field methodologies to explain the resourceful actions of employees in the context of organizational and social/ethical change.

To schedule an interview with Sonenshein, contact Jeff Falk, associate director of national media relations at Rice, at jfalk@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


Follow the Jones Graduate School of Business on Twitter @Rice_Biz.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

Related materials:

Sonenshein bio: https://business.rice.edu/person/scott-sonenshein

Jones Graduate School of Business: http://business.rice.edu

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.