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‘Reimagining disruption’

The most successful global brands don’t take sides by the political winds. They live their core values consistently over time…that’s authenticity. We need that.

Ms Michele Nix

Last week, GCSP Associate Fellow Michele Nix joined a panel discussion as part of “Reimagining Disruption,” a Washington, DC, conference, hosted by The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management (GPSM). Held February 28-March 2, the conference brought together former and current elected officials along with political, corporate and academic experts to discuss the challenges and future of U.S. political communication.  The aim of the GPSM conference was to strike positive discussion across the political divide and collectively discuss ways to restore civility and sportsmanship to American politics.

Ms. Nix and her fellow panelists took on the subject of public diplomacy, particularly how to communicate positively around the world given the intense global media spotlight on America’s current polarization and political climate. The panel more specifically delved into the unique challenges for Corporate America – especially the emergence of CEO activism and international corporate diplomacy.

“Corporate America has managed fairly well to stay outside the culture of fear and anger that embeds political and social conversations,” said Ms. Nix. “But today, given two-way social media megaphones, more companies are wading into issues such as gun control, immigration, the #MeToo movement and trade debates – as these have an impact on their customers, employees and bottom line.”



“It’s no longer a question of whether the private sector should or shouldn’t join the conversation. In fact, today there can be a price to pay for staying silent. But how these companies weigh in – so that they don’t alienate half their customer base or jeopardize their international relationships – takes diplomatic skill.” 

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that worldwide, citizens have an increasing distrust of their leaders and institutions. “It’s a difficult global operating environment for anyone at the helm of a company or country,” said Ms. Nix. “And all the more reason to stay above the fray of strident polarization and incendiary discourse. The most successful global brands don’t take sides by the political winds. They live their core values consistently over time – in what they say and how they conduct business around the world.  That’s authenticity. We need more of that.”