EY CEO: ‘We Can’t Afford to Remain Silent’ on Social Issues

August 23, 2018, 7:56 PM UTC

Today’s CEOs must engage with all stakeholders, not just shareholders—and sometimes that includes the government. Taking a diplomatic approach comes with its own set of challenges, though. Chief executives are keen to maintain relationships to inform policy, but they must also defend values that are important to their organization.

One such executive? Mark Weinberger, chairman and CEO of global professional services firm Ernst & Young, one of the world’s “Big Four” accounting firms. Last year, Weinberger made a bold decision to quit President Trump’s CEO advisory board to protest the administration’s response to the Charlottesville rally.

“We were presumed to agree on every single policy the president put out, not just what we advised on,” says Weinberger. Businesses play a critical role in helping government understand what’s going on outside of Washington, he says, but doing so requires common ground on issues that matter for all parties involved.

“It’s very important to listen to all stakeholders, especially employees,” Weinberger tells Fortune. And, he adds, speaking out will allow employees to feel proud that the CEO is not only saying it, but living it.

“If you remain silent when important things are going on that affect employees, business, and society, then you are tacitly approving what’s going on,” says Weinberger. “So we can’t afford to remain silent.”

Watch the video above for more from Fortune’s interview with Weinberger.

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