Public Opinion Counts - Urge Your CEOs To Speak Out

Monday, December 1, 2008 - 01:00

We now find ourselves in the worst economic crisis since the great depression.Issues that it generates will be front and center on corporate counsels' agenda for as long as it lasts - and no end is in sight. For this reason, we will, starting in January, include a monthly Special Report on the Economic Crisis

As a new administration develops policies, it is most important that public attitude toward business and the contribution it can make to recovery be positive. An OctoberPew Survey shows that 59 percent of the American public feels that businesses make too much profit and that 78 percent think that large companies have too much power. The pent-up fury is not limited to financial companies but clearly spills over to all corporations.It was seen in the way Senators and Representatives treated the automotive CEOs at their November hearings.Our elected representatives do not do that kind of thing unless they feel that there is a responsive audience - the American public.

Knowing the good things that your companies do both for the economy and the community, you know how unfair the public's attitude is and, as lawyers, you know the tremendous impact that such an attitude can have on government policies. You also know that companies are the keystones supporting recovery. In the words of Russ Deyo, the general counsel of Johnson & Johnson, in his page 11 interview "It is vital that CEOs speak out about the contributions that their companies make to the economy and to society" - as Bill Weldon, J&J'sCEO, did on this month's front cover.Now is the time for you to urge your CEO to speak out.

Al Driver,