Bennett Freeman

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The first of the former McDonald's restaurants reopens under a new brand in Pushkinskaya Square, Moscow, after the corporation sold its branches in Russia to a local businessman following the Ukraine invasion. Photo by Contributor/Getty Images.

The massive exit of more than 1,000 international companies from Russia has surpassed – by a factor of nearly ten in merely four months – the number which pulled out of apartheid-led South Africa over an entire decade.

These company exits extend beyond those industries targeted for sanctions – oil and gas, banks and financial services, aerospace, and certain technology sectors – to include hundreds in consumer products ranging from Levi’s and H&M clothing to Coca-Cola and McDonalds. Many of these companies may wish to return to a post-conflict – or post-Putin – Russia, while a few have already sold their Russian operations, as McDonald’s has to an existing Siberian licensee.…  Seguir leyendo »

Lorenzo Mendoza, president and chief executive officer of Empresas Polar SA, speaks during a news conference outside the company’s headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, on 31 October 2016. Photo credit: Copyright © Wil Riera/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Robust civic space is essential for good governance, the rule of law and for enabling citizens to shape their societies. However, civil society space around the world is under significant pressure and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this situation.

The weakening of international institutions and democratic norms worldwide has resulted in fewer constraints on autocracies. Meanwhile, the rise of nationalism, populism and illiberalism is taking its toll on civil liberties.

The private sector is in a unique position to work with civil society organizations to uphold and defend civic freedoms and support sustainable and profitable business environments. Companies have the capacity, resources and expertise to enhance the protection of civic space.…  Seguir leyendo »

The 'Fearless Girl' bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbalthe wears a voting sticker in front of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images.

In America, business leaders are no strangers to elections, whether contributing to and endorsing candidates, or trying to influence positions that may translate into policy. But the electoral process itself and its outcomes were largely taken for granted until the recent presidential election, when many felt compelled to make unprecedented statements supporting first the process, and then the outcome.

But can such a strong response by business to the pressures on the society in which they operate go further in 2021, and translate into action in support of civil society space at a time when it is fast deteriorating around the world?…  Seguir leyendo »