Sir, Sarah Gordon complains that companies are not speaking out about Brexit (“Shareholders need to know where companies stand on Brexit”, February 24). But the first duty of any board of a public company is to its shareholders. It is not obvious, just as it wasn’t in the referendum on Scottish independence, that putting a company’s name into an unpredictable and divisive political argument is in their interests. What should be obvious, however, and seems to be missed by the companies Ms Gordon chastises, is that there is ultimately no hiding place. If you say nothing, those who favour a change in the status quo will say you are OK with what they are proposing, exactly as the Leave campaign has done in recent days, and you get claimed as a supporter by default; if you say anything, you run reputational risks, albeit manageable ones. Unfashionable concepts in business debate, such as principle and belief, need to figure in board discussions. Managerialism won’t cut it.
28 Feb 2016
No hiding place in the Brexit debate - letter in Financial Times