Question for you, Larry Merlo (CVS), and you, Mike Parker (NIKE), and you, dear reader...
It’s impossible to watch the news and remain unaware of the bifurcation of our consumer society: Mass media ensure we all crave the same things; income inequality ensures we don’t have equal access. Baltimore’s protest of police treatment of a young Black man is one aspect of a scale that isn’t fairly balanced. The turning of that protest into vandalism of a CVS and a shoe store (among others) is another. We whose job it is to create demand, even craving, even lust for stuff need to ask ourselves which side of the scale is our thumb on?
My modest proposals:
First of all, CVS, rebuild, right there. Bring that store back to life as an act of faith in that neighborhood.
Second: Nike, Adidas and others athletic shoe makers: Invest in that small, family-owned shoe store. Help breath new life – and employment – into those streets.
The rest of us: Commit to hiring an inner-city intern this summer. Call the public high school in a tough neighborhood near you. Do it today.
Our purpose in life isn’t solely to ensure shareholder value and market share, after all. We can create social value and safeguard a dynamic, growing consumer culture that doesn’t fuel division, but rather celebrates shared joys.