Not long ago, an organization’s political contributions rarely created a stir. Now that consumers are more deeply engaged with brands on different levels, corporate politics and policies face unprecedented scrutiny.

I recently asked Paul Washington, executive director of The Conference Board ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) Center, what this means for marketers.

Paul Talbot: As companies face what the Conference Board refers to as ‘ever-greater scrutiny of their political activities, what should be on the minds of CMOs and marketing leaders?

Paul Washington: Marketing executives should consider three key factors:

1. The risks to your firm’s reputation and brands can come from multiple directions and sources. It’s easy to anticipate that customers or business partners who disagree with the company’s political or policy views may object or even boycott your products. But you can also face significant blowback for failing to take a stand, or for doing so inadequately or inauthentically.

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