On important holidays, businesses across the United States, from large corporations to mom-and-pop stores, display their patriotism by wrapping themselves in American flags. In fact, these companies are going all out with Old Glory, incorporating the red, white, and blue color scheme in their ads, websites, and social media platforms.
Companies do this because these holidays resonate with consumers, who show their approval in their wallets. According to a report by the National Retail Federation, Americans spend more than $9.5 billion on July 4th celebrations alone.
But at a time when our country is in more difficult times than ever before, businesses and industries have an obligation to view their commitment to America as more than just a lucrative marketing strategy to coincide with a major national holiday. American companies should play a leading role in bringing the country together year-round. And that leadership is especially important now more than ever as our nation begins to think about her 250th anniversary in 2026.
We constantly hear from business leaders concerned about the criticism of our sector and the public, and the seeming inability to engage in civil discussion and find common ground. Businesses often feel trapped, unsure of how to participate in civic life without risking their reputations.
But the evidence is clear. Employees and consumers alike value companies that promote their business through responsible citizenship. Last year, the nonpartisan Civic Alliance found that “76% of consumers are more likely to work for a company that promotes democracy.” Companies that practice public engagement also outperformed the overall S&P 500.
It's time for businesses to embrace this opportunity, not run away from it. As we approach our nation's 250th anniversary, the time is ripe for businesses to step up and activate their resources to honor our nation, commemorate our complex history of triumphs and tragedies, and encourage our people to do the same.
America and its business have a long history. Our ancestors and ancestors were the lucky people who came to this land of their own free will, and they did so to build a better life for themselves. Risk-takers and opportunity-seeking innovators opened shop, founded businesses, and began trading. More than 20 of his homes are preserved to this day in Williamsburg, Virginia alone. In fact, entrepreneurship is one of the drivers of the growth and development of our democracy, allowing it to flourish and expand for centuries.
The American business community therefore owes a debt to this country. The 250th anniversary of our independence gives us an opportunity to come together and celebrate the amazing events that took place in 1776 and changed the world forever. It's also an ideal time to give back to the country that provided seeds, fertile land, and nutrition for American industry.
To that end, there are many concrete steps companies can take individually and collectively to lead America's 250th anniversary celebrations. The first is through employee engagement. As the semi-annual 500th anniversary approaches, workplaces need to encourage civic dialogue and engagement throughout the year, especially at regional and national events across the country to mark the anniversary. Based on a national conference of civic planners, historical museums, and other organizations held at Colonial Williamsburg earlier this year to plan for 2026, we know that there are countless opportunities for civic engagement across the country. I know that.
Second, the business community must ensure that all Americans fully understand their role in the unending task of building a more perfect union. Currently, however, only eight states and the District of Columbia require year-round high school civics education; 11 states do not have a civics requirement and require students to take a civics exam as a graduation requirement. The state accounts for only 40%. Clearly more can and must be done. Businesses are partnering with schools, teacher and superintendent associations, and other relevant organizations to support the implementation of more inclusive civics curricula, ensuring that the next generation not only succeeds in their professions, but also contributes to the health of society's citizens. You can also make a contribution.
Third, we are proud that organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and professional business associations and associations, one of the most powerful voices and forces in civil society, have mobilized millions of members to celebrate our nation's 250th anniversary. We hope that you will prioritize commemorating this. This includes fundraising, community involvement, employee engagement and education, and even commercial opportunities to promote awareness.
Earlier this year, Edelman's 23rd annual International Trust Barometer found that, in contrast to a widespread decline in trust in government and the media, “companies are now viewed as competent and ethical. It has become clear that this is the only institution with a Which country has seen the biggest increase in business trust? The United States.
In short, America is good for business. And business is good for America.
Carly Fiorina is Chair of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Board of Directors, former presidential candidate, and former CEO of Hewlett-Packard.
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