Dr. Yeunjae Lee and Dr. Weiting Tao examined the effects of CEO activism from the employee’s perspective.
A survey of 417 full-time U.S. employees at different levels of job positions working in small, medium, and large corporations whose CEOs had engaged in activism behaviors was conducted.
Key findings include:
- Employees who expect ethical behaviors from CEOs tend to perceive CEO activism as moral behavior, regardless of the issues on which the CEOs choose to speak.
- By contrast, employees who expect economic achievement from their CEOs such as increasing revenues, sales, or firm performance do not necessarily view CEO activism as moral behavior.
- Organizational leaders who are willing to take a public stance on controversial sociopolitical issues should:
- Emphasize the moral aspects of activism in messages to employees.
- Make efforts to practice transformational leadership style to increase their likelihood of being supported by their employees when taking a public stance externally.
- Identify employee expectations toward the CEO’s socially responsible actions.