Top vs. Flop: Supervisory boards, defend democracy!


*Anyone who thinks entrepreneurially must take a clear stance against populists. A plea for more consistent business lobbying

We don’t know about you. But we can’t get the images of the storming of the Capitol out of our minds. The event brought home to all of us with brutal clarity how fragile our democracy is. It is not self-evident or immutable; it is an achievement that must be defended.

And let’s not kid ourselves: Trump is not a singular US phenomenon, but an expression of rapid change that produces (perceived) losers and unsettles people. As this change tends to accelerate, it is foreseeable that our society will remain “irritable” – a fertile breeding ground for populists and anti-democrats.

What does this mean for boards of directors and supervisory boards? We are convinced that being “apolitical” is no longer an option. Responsible leadership and supervision means not least: Showing attitude and exemplifying values – internally, but also externally. Because that promotes employee and customer loyalty in equal measure.

Anti-populism as an expression of entrepreneurial thinking

And we have another reason on offer: liberal democracy, with its combination of personal and economic freedom, offers the best conditions for leading companies to success. Defending it is therefore not only an indication of a sense of social responsibility, but also an expression of long-term entrepreneurial thinking.

No wonder that family entrepreneurs like Reinhold Würth or Nicolas Stihl have long since clearly shown their colours – against populism and for Europe. Traditional management and supervisory boards sometimes still find it difficult to do so because they fear a shitstorm, the Chinese government’s ban or boycotts by AfD voters.

We are convinced that such restraint is not in the interests of the company. And those who like to call for tax cuts and bureaucracy reduction can’t claim they want to stay out of politics anyway. Liberal democracy is the central pillar of a business-friendly environment – and its preservation is therefore an objective that is all the more worth lobbying for.