Should Small Businesses Speak Up?

Date posted: January 29, 2018

Some consumers want businesses to take a stand on political issues.

By Rieva Lesonsky

Many people (including myself) have warned small business owners to avoid publicly talking about certain topics, such as religion or politics. It’s too easy to offend people who don’t hold the same views you do.

But eMarketer notes a survey from Sprout Social that shows 67% of respondents actually want businesses to take a stand on social and political issues.

It would seem counter-intuitive, especially in today’s uber-charged and polarized political environment, to take a stand. But the Sprout Social survey says it might be safe to do so. The causes that evoked the most agreement?

  • 58%: Human rights
  • 55%: Labor laws
  • 48%: Poverty
  • 48%: Gender equality
  • 45%: Environment
  • 45%: Education
  • 43%: Race relations
  • 42%: Healthcare
  • 34%: LGBTQ rights
  • 33%: Immigration


Every one of those issues earns an approval rating of 64% or higher from those who want companies to speak out only if it related to their products or services.

The most popular platform to take a stand on is social media, which at 58% was far ahead of TV or radio at 47%.

A couple of caveats:

Andrew Caravella, vice president of strategy and brand engagement at Sprout Social, says those surveyed think businesses “are more credible when taking this kind of public stand when they have a history of speaking out on that topic.” The cause should also relate to your product or service in some way.

Also consider your customer base’s views. More respondents (53%) say they’d buy less from businesses they disagree with, while 44% says they would increase their purchases from businesses they agree with.

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