History indicates that social activities shape humanity. In United States, the state of the country was dependent on public protests that focused on women suffrage, civil rights acts, and environmental campaigns. Through the activities implemented in Unites States, companies such as BP, Nike, and Walmart shaped organization’s corporate responsibility, helping them to evolve. However, some companies can be slow to change making it difficult to know the strategies to use especially when the company wants to adapt to the new market variations (Miller 1). In some cases, the activists do not always see the changes they want within a year. Some of their efforts end up ruining companies that were once performing well.
Research from different scholars indicates that activism encourages companies to respond to the environmental and the social needs. The studies indicate that when the public exerts pressure on some companies, these organizations adopt procedures that help them become submissive to the pressure from public. For these reasons, public campaigners need to feel encouraged when they feel that their activities are unprogressive. Various studies indicate that even the smallest shift in the company communications or structure results to the firm opening doors to great responsiveness in the future through social movements.
In a research conducted by Soule and her colleagues on 300 organizations listed in Fortune 500 between 1933 and 2009, it is clear that activism affects corporate responsibility. The data analyzed two types of public campaigns such as proxy proposals and boycotts directed at particular firms. Boycotts are an external and high profile activism that results in the breakdown of a company’s ability to control its social challenges and contentious stakeholders. Based on previous media reports, it is true that boycotts create negative public attention and threaten the brand and reputation of some of the target firms (Miller 4). Companies affected by boycotts address the issue by setting up a corporate social responsibility committee. The board includes civil society and non-profit agents that assist companies improve on their ability to engage in public protests. The committee works on reducing the likelihood of future issues that threatens the reputation of a given brand, and strengthens the ability of the company to respond and recognize the challenging issues that pacify the public campaigners.
Another important but less known form of activism is proxy proposals also known as shareholders’ solutions. These are written proposals presented by activists during the company annual meeting. The plans are mainly used by shareholders to address social challenges that require the attention of the management. Proxy proposals are a form of internal activism that can shake the confidence of the investors. Due to their effectiveness, social movements operate as investing units that buy stakes in a firm with the aim of submitting their proxy proposal and draw the management attention to the challenges that the activists think should be addressed. Examples of proxy proposals units include People for Ethical Treatment of Animals that holds stock of more than eighty firms targeting animal rights protests (Miller 5).
The author states that companies such as Nike have been forced to respond to activism in the past such as social proxy proposals, boycotts, and protests. The company created a corporate social responsibility committee making it one of the best companies between 1970 and 1990s. Some of the protest that target Nike addressed issues such as labor practices in some of their overseas subsidiaries where their products were made. For many years, the company did not respond to these protests but later responded because its reputation was affected.