CEOs Should Get Political, But Only Authentically

CEOs Should Get Political, But Only Authentically

Our CEO Ray Morris weighs in on taking an authentic political stand and how CREDO Mobile made that move, previously considered “public relations suicide,” to becoming a leader bringing about change on social and political issues, which is now a business necessity.

“CEOs Should Get Political, But Only Authentically” originally published on Forbes.com, April 25, 2018.

“Republicans buy shoes too.” The controversial quote, attributed to basketball legend Michael Jordan when he refused to endorse Harvey Gantt over avowed racist Jesse Helms in a 1990 Senate race, had dogged him ever since, despite doubts over the statement’s authenticity. Nonetheless, it reflected a longstanding brick wall between business and politics. After all, who wants to put off potential customers?

But there is a limit to this mindset, even for the biggest corporations. When President Trump equated both sides in the Charlottesville protests, his CEO-led business advisory councils disbanded – just one example of how his behavior and rhetoric have compelled companies to ignore the historic wall between corporations and issue activism. Recent Super Bowl commercials confirm this trend, hawking beer with touching (albeit often ham-handed) immigrant stories, and car ads calling out racial and gender bias. As corporate activism surges under this administration, it seems that companies are rushing to appeal to today’s consumers by standing with DREAMers, proclaiming environmental bona fides or dropping sponsorships with the National Rifle Association (NRA) after horrific school shootings.

How did taking a political stand shift from public relations suicide to business necessity, and how can we know when companies are acting authentically or with solely financial motives?

When our company, CREDO Mobile, was started more than 30 years ago, the founders wanted to show that a company could have a true moral compass as well as a strong political voice. Our goal was not to function as a tool of political candidates or parties. Rather, we sought to do the right thing and see if we could achieve our business goals as well as our vision for a more progressive future while inspiring the public to take action.

We pursued these two ends authentically, acting on our values, not from pressure to adapt to consumer whims. It worked because our customers liked the quality of products and also appreciated the ability to put their monthly bills to work for causes they care about, like funding Planned Parenthood, Doctors Without Borders, Friends of the Earth, the American Civil Liberties Union and dozens of others. CEOs just now wading into the political fray shouldn’t do so to woo customers — they should do it because it’s the right and necessary thing to do.

The evidence supports this approach. A company’s reputation can hinge on its response (or lack thereof) to developments in politics and broader society. As a Global Strategy Group (GSG) survey found, 81% of consumers believe CEOs should play a leadership role in bringing about change on social and political issues, and they are actively trying to understand where the companies stand on certain issues — a marked increase over previous years. In fact, the study shows that consumers are willing to go beyond simply tolerating a company’s activism and now actually embrace it, suggesting that all else being equal, a huge swath of the market will be loyal to a company that fights for their values.

There is an important caveat, bringing us back to the importance of authenticity: While it’s crucial to take a stand on critical issues, companies must do so quickly. GSG found that following a current event, half of Americans now expect a response from a corporation within 24 hours. This separates the authentically political from bandwagon jumpers-on because this timeframe is just too short for poll-testing, focus-grouping and hand-wringing over risking the bottom line. Companies that act from their long-held values can continue doing so with confidence, knowing their customers will remain loyal.

Article reposted with permission from Forbes Technology Council. Read the original article here.

Tuesday Tip: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Use This Summer

Tuesday Tip: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Energy Use This Summer

People were cooler in the ’80s. Literally. The last time the global monthly temperature was below average was February 1985. Which means that if you were born after that date, you have not enjoyed a cooler-than-average month in your entire life.

Clearly, climate change is an urgent—if not the most urgent—existential problem facing our planet. Here at CREDO, we know this, and that’s why we mobilize our millions of CREDO members to take action on climate justice issues, like stopping dirty energy pipelines and keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and why we support groups like 350.org, Rainforest Action Network and Earthjustice through our CREDO donations program.

Of course, we also do our part at home by conserving energy where we can to shrink our carbon footprint. To help you save energy in your home, we offer the following 10 suggestions.

Close your curtains.

Shut your curtains or blinds to keep out the heat during the day. Doing this can cut home heat gain by 45 percent, according to the Department of Energy. Curtains are not as effective as blinds but even a medium-color curtain with white plastic on the back can cut heat gain by 33 percent.

Set your AC higher.

If you use air conditioning, set it at the highest temperature you can tolerate comfortably. You’ll save 10 percent a year on your cooling bill by setting your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees higher for 8 hours each day. Also: AC will not cool a space faster if you crank it to the maximum when you get home. Dialing the thermostat down to 60 won’t get you to 70 any quicker. You’ll just waste extra energy and money.

Get a fan.

If you don’t have a ceiling fan at home, a floor fan will also do a great job of keeping you cool. If you use air conditioning, a good fan will allow you to raise your thermostat 4 degrees with no reduction in comfort, according to Energy.gov, though your personal results may vary.

Make a personal AC.

Put a bowl of ice in front of an electric fan. The fan will blow the cold air in your direction and keep you cool. This uses a lot less energy than air conditioning. And it really is a thing, we didn’t make it up! It actually does work, if only for a short while.

Close doors and vents.

Don’t waste energy cooling rooms you don’t spend time in. Close the doors to these rooms and shut the vents that supply them.

Plant trees.

If you have a house, plant more trees, shrubs and bushes around the edges. They not only provide shade, they cool the air before it penetrates your walls and windows.

Line dry your clothes.

Clotheslines are making a comeback. And summer, of course, is the best time for line drying. The sun is available and you’ll keep radiant heat from the dryer out of your home. Also: air dry your dishes if you have a dishwasher.

Wash in cold water.

A whopping 90 percent of the power consumed by your washing machine is used to heat the water for warm-water washing, according to Energy Star. Switch to the cold-water setting and you’ll save a lot of energy. But look for a cold-water detergent next time you’re shopping. They actually are formulated to work better in cold water (the claim is not just marketing).

Turn down your water heater.

Water heating accounts for 15 to 25 percent of energy consumption in the average home, says the Department of Energy. Turning down the temperature 10 degrees Fahrenheit on your hot water heater saves 3 to 5 percent on energy costs, so a drop from 140 F to 120 F saves you 6 to 10 percent.

Use solar lighting outdoors.

Outdoor solar lights have improved markedly from the dim, short-lived lights of years past. Bright LEDs have replaced conventional bulbs and better photovoltaic cells have boosted efficiency. LEDs create light without generating heat, so they run on far less energy and last longer. The lights are simple to install, virtually maintenance free and provide free light for your yard.

Plus this one: consider CREDO Energy, a new CREDO product we’ve launched in partnership with Energy Rewards to enable you to choose 100 percent renewable wind power while supporting progressive causes. Learn more at CREDO Energy and sign up to be notified when it’s coming to your state.

Our May grantees thank you for your support

Each month, CREDO members vote on how we distribute funding to three incredible organizations. Those small actions add up – with one click, you can help fund groups fighting for voting rights, civil rights and digital rights. In May, nearly 50,000 CREDO members voted to distribute $150,000 in donations to Brennan Center for Justice, Detention Watch Network and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

These donations are made possible by CREDO customers and the revenue they generate by using our services. The distribution depends entirely on the votes of CREDO members like you. And for that, our MayApril grant recipients thank you.

Brennan Center for Justice
$60,645
“At a pivotal and challenging moment for American democracy, the Brennan Center could not be more grateful for support from CREDO members like you. Thank you for joining the fight to protect voting rights, the rule of law and equal justice.” To learn more, visit brennancenter.org.

Detention Watch Network
$46,350
“Thanks to supporters like you, Detention Watch Network will continue to make strides in attaining our vision of a world without immigration detention. Thank you!” To learn more, visit detentionwatchnetwork.org.

Electronic Frontier Foundation
$43,005
“Because of CREDO members like you, our values live in the way we defeat threats and champion progress. We’re proud and humbled by your passion for freedom and the future that ought to be. Thank you.” To learn more, visit eff.org.

Now check out the three causes we are funding in June, and cast your vote to help distribute our donations.

CREDO members who use our products are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile, the carrier with a conscience.

Vote for these three progressive groups this June

Each month, we ask CREDO members to vote on how we distribute funding to three great progressive causes. This June, CREDO members have the chance to support organizations fighting for reproductive freedom, battling climate change and defending transgender rights by voting for NARAL Pro-Choice America, Rainforest Action Network and the Transgender Law Center.

Learn more about these groups below and click here to vote for one, two or all three groups today.

NARAL Pro-Choice America
NARAL Pro-Choice America and its 1.2 million member-activists fight every day to protect and expand reproductive freedom – including access to abortion and birth control, paid parental leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination.

Funding from CREDO members would help NARAL mobilize its 1.2 million members-activists under a mantra of Power, Progress, Principles: building power through people, carving out a path toward real progress and holding our leaders accountable to these principles. Funding would also help the organization gear up for a major Supreme Court challenge to NARAL’s Reproductive FACT Act, the first reproductive rights test for the Gorsuch Court.

Rainforest Action Network
Rainforest Action Network preserves forests, protects the climate and upholds human rights by challenging corporate power and systemic injustice through frontline partnerships and strategic campaigns.

CREDO funding would support the escalation of RAN’s on-the-ground and digital organizing campaign to oppose JP Morgan Chase’s financing for tar sands through high profile non-violent direct actions that secure media attention. These direct actions would show JP Morgan Chase that its involvement in tar sands will harm its brand image by exposing its financial links to human rights abuses and climate chaos.

Transgender Law Center
The Transgender Law Center does what it takes to keep transgender people alive, thriving and fighting for liberation. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC is the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all.

In these uncertain political times when federal support for transgender equality has been rolled back, transgender immigrants are bearing the brunt of double attacks on their rights and well-being. Funding from CREDO members would allow TLC to rapidly move forward with impact litigation when an appropriate case presents itself, organize a National Training Institute or provide particular technical assistance to communities when state or local issues create a heightened need for trans organizing, or provide Trans Immigration Defense Effort support in response to urgent threats facing immigrants.

Your vote this June will determine how we divide $150,000 in donations among these three progressive causes. Be sure to cast your vote to support one, two or all three by June 30.

CREDO members who use our products are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile, the carrier with a conscience.

Victory: New Jersey passes renewable energy legislation

Big victory for renewable energy in New Jersey! Thanks to our allies and CREDO activists in the state, Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed a “historic measure to revive renewable energy in New Jersey.”

More than 2,600 CREDO members in New Jersey signed our petition urging the state legislature to stand up for solar power. Now, New Jersey will help to lead the way in promoting clean, renewable solar power to its residents by creating New Jersey’s first community solar program and ramping up New Jersey’s Renewable Portfolio Standard – the rule that requires power companies to include an increasing percentage of renewable energy in the energy they sell.

To all our New Jersey CREDO members, thank you for your activism.

We also want to thank our allies at Vote Solar, Earthjustice, the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Sunrun who have been working hard on the ground in New Jersey and advocating to move this legislation forward.

Tuesday Tip: 5 Books for Summer Reading

Tuesday Tip: 5 Books for Summer Reading

Summer will be here soon. Days will be longer and, magically, you’ll have a lot more time to do stuff – like surf the internet or binge watch that Netflix series you missed.

Or read a good book. Yes, that’s more like it. Relax with a cool drink and a book and improve your mind. It’s true. Research shows that reading is excellent for your thinking and memory and maintains brain health as you age.

Here are five of our favorite books for summer reading.

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
This is the emotional and inspiring true story of a transgender girl, her identical twin brother and a small-town American family’s journey from discovery to understanding to fierce advocacy for transgender rights. Ellis Nutt, Pulitzer Prize–winning science reporter for the Washington Post, delivers a luminous account of the Maines family, as parents Kelly and Wayne rise above their preconceptions, learn to love both their children equally and launch a landmark legal fight that forces a town to confront its prejudices and a school to rewrite its rules. It was also named one of the best books of the year in 2015 by the New York Times Book Review.

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer
From land of the free, home of the brave to toxic Trumpscape. How did we get here? Investigative journalist Mayer shows us how, revealing the small group of immensely wealthy, extremely conservative plutocrats who have made America the bastion of inequality, tribalism and scorched-earth capitalism it is today. For decades, a secretive group of oligarchs – including the Kochs, the Scaifes, the Olins and the Bradleys – have spent billions to design and deliver a plan that has fundamentally altered our society, culture and politics. An eye-opening and frankly frightening account of how the United States has been made what it is today by a faction of right-wing families with entirely their own interests in mind.

Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out and Finding the Courage to Lead by Cecile Richards
Cecile Richards is the daughter of the late, great, straight-talking Texas Gov. Ann Richards. She served as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund for more than a decade. In this highly personal and instructive memoir, she describes how she learned to lead and make change and fight for women’s rights and social justice, starting when she was sent to the principal’s office in 7th grade for protesting the Vietnam War. Richards tells a powerful story of the prejudice, fake news and threats of violence that face those who challenge the status quo – and she urges us to fight through it all to take risks, make trouble and create a better world along the way.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
A longtime civil rights advocate and litigator, Alexander makes the case that the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a system of racial control, imprisoning Black men by the millions, relegating them to permanent second-class status and repressing communities of color. The rate of incarceration for African Americans nearly tripled from 1968 to 2016, and Black boys now face a 32 percent probability of incarceration in their lifetime. This is a system designed to maintain African Americans as a permanent underclass, Alexander argues convincingly. Her book is a must-read for all people of conscience.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
What does an extinction look like? It looks like a massive asteroid impact. Like an enormous volcanic eruption. And it looks like now. In the past half-billion years, there have been five mass extinctions in which the diversity of life on earth decreased suddenly and dramatically. We are now seeing a sixth extinction and the cause of the cataclysm is not asteroid or megavolcano but us people. In prose candid, entertaining and, yes, discouraging, New Yorker writer Kolbert explains how we are changing the planet’s environment as no species ever has and she compels us to rethink the fundamental meaning of what it is to be human.

Why did AT&T pay Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen $600,000? We have some ideas.

Earlier this May, we learned that AT&T paid Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, $600,000 to “advise” on various matters in the telecommunications industry – even though Cohen is not an expert in the field. Cohen is widely considered a “fixer” who is best known for paying hush money to a woman with whom Trump allegedly had an affair and accepting massive sums of money from corporations in exchange for access to the president.

The timing of the payments to Cohen through a shady shell corporation raises serious questions about AT&T’s intentions to influence the Trump administration.

First, AT&T’s proposed $85 billion mega-merger with Time Warner is currently pending before the Department of Justice, which has sued to block the merger from moving forward. Trump has also publicly opposed the merger and promised to block it if he was elected. CREDO and our members have pressured the DOJ a number of times to reject this merger, which would hurt consumers, decrease competition and drastically increase market concentration.

What was AT&T expecting from Cohen and Trump after making such a massive payment? Cohen is no policy expert and, as far as we can tell, has no serious understanding of the telecom industry. An internal memo from AT&T claims Cohen was hired to work on “legislative policy development” and “regulatory policy development.” This reasoning simply doesn’t pass the smell test.

Second, payments from AT&T flowed into Cohen’s bank account starting in early 2017 and ending in January 2018 – just as Trump’s hand-picked FCC chairman Ajit Pai pushed through the repeal of net neutrality regulations despite massive public outcry – including from hundreds of thousands of CREDO members and even 75 percent of Trump supporters. We already knew AT&T opposed net neutrality, but now internal documents from AT&T reveal that the company paid Cohen to work on issues “with a focus on the FCC.

Unlike AT&T and its corporate grift, CREDO Mobile has never given money to Donald Trump’s lawyer, and we never will. CREDO customers will never have to worry that their mobile carrier will participate in a pay-to-play scheme to win approval for corporate mega-mergers or destroy net neutrality.

At CREDO, our customers know that their phone bill is supporting progressive organizations and grassroots activists fighting to stop Trump and his right-wing agenda, including the battle to protect net neutrality and preserve a free and open internet.

Here’s the comparison of AT&T and CREDO – by the numbers:

New video: UltraViolet’s Shaunna Thomas visits CREDO Headquarters

 UltraViolet Executive Director Shaunna Thomas joined CREDO Action Co-Director Heidi Hess for a special conversation to discuss how the organization is fighting sexism and standing up for women’s rights. If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch the full video below or on our Facebook page.

LIVE NOW: Ultraviolet at CREDO Headquarters

CREDO welcomes UltraViolet Executive Director Shauna Thomas to discuss the #MeToo movement and her organization’s important work standing up for women’s rights.

Posted by CREDO Mobile on Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tuesday Tip: 6 National Parks to Visit this Summer

Plenty of parking: This summer, visit a national park

With summer on the way, you might be planning a vacation. Here’s a suggestion: go to a national park—because the great outdoors is always a good idea.

You might choose the most visited: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which offers 800 miles of hiking trails across North Carolina and Tennessee. Or the least visited: Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve in Alaska, which is north of the Arctic Circle and accessible only by bush plane.

You might try the largest: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, also in Alaska, is 25 percent bigger than Switzerland. Or drop in at the smallest: David Berger National Memorial in Beachwood, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, consists of a sculpture on the grounds of the Mandel Jewish Community Center and commemorates David Berger, a weightlifter with dual U.S.-Israel citizenship who was one of the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

You have 60 national parks to choose from and now is a great time to go and show your appreciation. President Trump and his Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, consider our parks not an irreplaceable national treasure owned by all Americans (which they are) but a resource to be mined, drilled and logged for corporate profit (which Zinke is trying to make them).

Here at CREDO, we’re fighting to preserve the health and accessibility of our national parks. And we’re winning. In April, after more than 85,000 CREDO members submitted public comments, the Interior Department backed down from a proposal to significantly raise entrance fees at some of our most iconic national parks.

Here are six parks that show the wild diversity of our national network.

We hope they’ll spark your vacation brainstorming process and encourage you to get out and enjoy a park soon.

Acadia National Park, Maine

By Niagara66Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Acadia is the only national park in Maine and, fittingly, includes fine examples of the state’s many dramatic natural features. There are peaks, including Cadillac Mountain, which at 1,530 feet is the highest point on the North Atlantic seaboard and the first place to see the sun rise in the U.S. (from October 7 to March 6). There are ponds, forests, fields and rocky coastlines. There is abundant wildlife, from whales to raptors. And you can explore it all on the park’s 45 miles of historic carriage roads—commissioned by John D. Rockefeller in 1915—by foot, bike or horse. There are also varied choices of accommodation. You can camp, rent a cabin or find a B&B in Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor or Northeast Harbor, along with a lot of good restaurants.

Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Route 3, Bar Harbor, ME 04609. Plan your visit.

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Great Basin is a great place to get away from it all. Located in eastern Nevada on the Utah border, it’s one of our least-visited national parks. It’s surrounded by desert but there is abundant diversity here. There is 13,000-foot Wheeler Peak, with its rock-covered glacier. There are ancient bristlecone pine trees, some of them thousands of years old. Below the park are the Lehman Caves, an extensive natural limestone cave system, and above the park is a galactically brilliant night sky. This is one of the darkest places in the U.S. and it features a magnificent view of the Milky Way.

5500 W Hwy 488, Baker, NV 89311.  Plan your visit.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

By ZachjankOwn work, CC BY 3.0, Link</

The mountainous dunes here are the tallest in North America. The highest reach over 700 feet and take over an hour to climb up from the parking lot. Prefer not to climb down? No problem. Bring your own sled or sandboard and, after you enjoy the view from the top, you can ride to the bottom. Then cool off with a swim in Medanos Creek, depending on the snowpack in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains above the dunefield. If you’re not an X-sports kind of person, there are miles of trails for hiking and backpacking, through not only dunes but grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes and tundra. And, as they say here, half the park is after dark. The park’s combination of dry air, scant light pollution and elevation make for excellent stargazing.

Visitor Center, 11999 State Highway 150, Mosca, CO 81146. Plan your visit. 

Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior

By TVerBeek at wts wikivoyage [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons

A great escape relatively close to civilization, Isle Royale is a group of islands in Lake Superior, near Michigan’s border with Canada. Accessible only by boat, seaplane or 6-hour ferry trip, the rugged islands are an easy place to find time alone. They see fewer visitors in a year than Yellowstone in a day. Go backpacking, day hiking, kayaking or even scuba diving on one of the lake’s shipwrecks. There are no wheeled vehicles allowed here (not even bicycles) to preserve the peace of the moose, wolves, foxes, otters and other wild species. The park is perfect for camping but, if that’s not your cup of cocoa, there is the Rock Harbor Lodge and several cabins.

800 East Lakeshore Drive. Houghton, MI 49931. Plan your visit. 

North Cascades National Park, Washington

The inaccessibility of North Cascades—Highway 20 is the only road through—ensures that the park is uncrowded and pristine, though it’s only 100 miles from Seattle. This is a rugged mountainscape of glaciers, temperate rainforest, bald eagles and waterfalls. Many of the hiking trails are difficult but one that isn’t is Cascade Pass, along what was once a trade route used by Native peoples traveling between the coast and the interior. They followed ridge crests to avoid the dense brush along avalanche chutes and stream bottoms and you can retrace their steps on a relatively easy 3.5-mile hike through the forest and up to the pass, which is at 5,392 feet and offers breathtaking views.

810 State Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284. Plan your visit. 

Pinnacles National Park, California

By Brocken Inaglory [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons

Just 2 hours southeast of San Francisco, amid oak groves and chaparral-covered hills, Pinnacles is a unique landscape of rock crags, caves and spires formed 23 million years ago by volcanic eruptions. It’s an uncrowded but striking landscape crossed by 30 miles of hiking trails rated from easy to expert level. Wildlife here includes bats living in the rare talus caves (bring your flashlight), peregrine falcons, golden eagles and a population of almost 100 California condors, back from the brink of extinction. The park is divided into two halves, east and west. There is camping on the east side but not the west.

Many of us here at CREDO will be headed to a national park this summer. We hope to see you out there.

5000 Highway 146, Paicines, CA 95043. Plan your visit.

Victory: Ronny Jackson withdraws as VA Secretary nominee

Here’s a huge thank you to the more than 86,000 CREDO activists who took action demanding that the Senate reject the nomination of Adm. Ronny Jackson, Trump’s White House physician, to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs.

After massive public pressure –- including by CREDO member and our allies –- Jackson removed himself from consideration from the position.

Trump fired former VA Secretary David Shulkin because Shulkin opposed Trump’s radical privatization plans. To replace him, Trump nominated Jackson – a man with zero experience in management who is most famous for his comically over-the-top praise of Trump’s physical condition.

We know Trump’s next pick to lead the VA could be another privatization advocate, so we hope you will join us again to oppose any nominee who plans to do our veterans a disservice by handing over their care to private industry.