By Alan Murray and David Meyer
February 26, 2018

Good morning.

Both Delta and United airlines announced Saturday that they were withdrawing from agreements to provide discounted travel to members of the National Rifle Association attending the group’s annual meeting. That followed similar action by other companies to end partnerships and discount programs with the pro-gun group, including First National Bank of Omaha—which issues the NRA Visa Card; MetLife; Chubb insurance; Hertz, Avis, Budget, Alamo, Enterprise and National car rental; and a number of other firms, including Symantec, Simplisafe, TrueCar and Starkey Hearing. Also yesterday, investment giant Blackstone sent an email to about a dozen hedge funds in which Blackstone has an interest, asking for information about “any ownership or lending” of or to “gun manufacturers or gin sellers.”

There is risk in these corporate actions. The NRA has called them “a shameful display of political and civic cowardice.” And as The New York Times detailed yesterday, the gun group has an intense and devoted following that has proven its willingness to take action against those who support gun restrictions. Moreover, Americans overall are much more evenly divided on gun ownership questions than many urban and coastal dwellers suppose. Prior to the Parkland shooting, for instance, when the Pew Research Center asked: “Which do you think is more important—to protect the right of Americans to own guns, OR to control gun ownership?”, Americans have routinely split right down the middle, at around 50-50.

Given those risks, the corporate response is especially significant, and shows companies feel they can no longer hide from such high-wattage social issues. The pressure on them, often driven by social media campaigns, is growing. And their willingness to respond to that pressure appears to be growing as well. That’s one more sign that we are in the midst of a significant reframing of the relationship between corporations and society.

Separately, IBM this morning is releasing a survey of 12,500 C-suite executives that suggests fears of disruption by digital natives may be abating. When asked, “What types of enterprises are leading disruption within your industry?”, some 72% cited “innovative industry incumbents,” which was more than twice the percentage who cited digital giants such as as Apple, Google, Amazon and Alibaba, and more than three times the number who cited startups or companies from other industries.

News below.

Alan Murray


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