Speak Up and Be Heard

As the presidential election nears a close, businesses need to make their interests known.

Ronnie Garrett, Editor
Ronnie Garrett, Editor

In 2014, Senator Elizabeth Warren said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re probably on the menu.” Though her statement was aimed at 300 donors and supporters of Emily’s List, a political action committee that has as its mission electing pro-choice Democratic women to office, the sentiment applies to politics today.

As Supply & Demand Chain Executive’s editorial team conducted research and did interviews for the cover story on Page 6, which eyes the risk the next President’s policy might bring to business and their global supply chains, one thought quickly rose to the surface: It’s going to be incredibly important for businesses to make sure their interests are known to members of Congress and the new administration as they debate issues such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, corporate taxes, immigration and trade sanctions. So important that source Scott McCandless, a principal in the Tax Policy Services group of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Washington National Tax Services, quipped, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re going to be on the menu.”

He reminds us that businesses often get complacent in their conversations on Capitol Hill. But in order to get their interests known and keep them top of mind as these measures move through Congress, McCandless stresses businesses need to start talking about how proposed policies, if enacted, will impact them. “Engage, engage, engage,” he says. “Talk to the administration. Talk to folks at the treasury, in the House, in the Senate, and begin conversations where your operations are strongest. Talk to the Congressmen and women who represent those districts. They can be your allies when these things are debated.”

He warns businesses not to overlook employees as good sources for these conversations. “Many times businesses think CEOs, finance officers or lobbyists are the best people to engage in these conversations, and they overlook their own employees,” he states.

According to McCandless, business leaders often fail to tell employees what government policies might mean to the company. These employees work their 9-to-5 and go home without ever thinking about what a lack of corporate tax reform or a trade partnership or a sanction means to them, but these decisions have a very real impact on companies, supply chains, jobs and salaries. “If employers have very open and candid conversations with employees, they can get them engaged and that is a very effective tool,” he says, recalling how in his four years working on Capitol Hill, he found when employees visited and shared their company’s story and how proposed policy might impact their company, it was an eye-opening conversation for everyone involved.

The reality is that when companies keep their thoughts to themselves, their interests are not heard. As we near the finish line for Election 2016, get out there and talk to the candidates and keep that conversation going long after the polls are closed. Ask yourself the question: Do you want to be at lunch or be lunch? The answer is up to you.