It’s a slippery slope when big companies start to use their power to control what others should do.
Salesforce.com recently released a new external services policy that stated companies that sell military-style rifles must stop selling those products or stop using their software.
That is heavy-handed and, essentially, corporate bullying.
It’s one thing for a big company to try to use its influence for good by using socially responsible practices, lobbying legislators or having positive marketing campaigns encouraging changes.
It’s another thing when a big company uses its power to force change, particularly when a product is legal.
It is legal for those who clear a background check to buy a military-style rifle, including the AR-15. It is true those guns many times end up in the wrong hands, or those who legally purchased them end up carrying out acts of evil.
But the same could be said of alcohol, certain prescription drugs or a whole range of other things.
There can be a wide variety of reasons an individual would want to have something banned. Those for animal rights may want meat products banned. Some conservationists want plastic bags and plastic straws banned.
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All companies have a right to lobby for their beliefs. But it crosses the line when clients, basically, have nowhere else to go and are forced to change.
For example, Salesforce.com’s decision greatly affects Camping World, which sells guns among many other items.
The company cannot just walk across the street and get a new software company. Switching services could cost a significant amount of money as well as extensive staff training time.
According to a Washington Post report, this is not Salesforce’s first time trying to force policy changes at other companies.
Salesforce provides software to U.S. Customers and Border Protection; about 650 Salesforce employees reportedly signed a letter raising concerns about CBP use of its products.
Salesforce Chairman Marc Benioff has reportedly tweeted that AR-15s should be banned. He has pledged $1 million to March for Our Lives, a group advocating gun-control legislation.
Again, there is nothing wrong with donating money to a cause or espousing one’s beliefs on Twitter. It’s another story when a large company is using its power to control others. And this isn’t just about guns. If it can happen with guns, it can happen with anything else.
It’s a slippery slope that companies shouldn’t go down.