Corporate social responsibility can come in many forms.  It is much more than writing a check or deploying volunteers. At its core it is about taking a stand for the greater good, and that is exactly what Dicks Sporting Goods has decided to do.  As one of America’s largest sports retailers this stance is a strong one and should set the tone for others to follow. 

The announcement focuses on their decision to stop selling assault-style rifles and to end gun sales to people under the age of 21.  Dick’s recognizes that they did indeed sell the teenage Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz, a rifle in November, however, this was not the gun used in the horrific incident that took place on February 14th. 

The gun had not been used in the attack, Dick’s said, “but it could have been. Clearly this indicates on so many levels that the systems in place are not effective to protect our kids and our citizens.” Leading this valiant charge is Edward Stack, Dick’s chairman and chief executive.  He is calling on politicians “to enact common sense gun reform” and pass regulations banning assault-style weapons. 

This bold decision is one that is rarely seen by such a large corporation and marks one of the biggest steps taken by a US company after a massacre. With so much media attention currently surrounding the gun debate it is important that businesses that correlate with this issue should step up and take a position. Since the February 14th shooting, many large brands have deviated from the common National Rifle Association (NRA) member discounts offered by so many companies, essentially cutting ties to the gun lobby.  

Other companies who have also moved away from the NRA have received mixed results. But in making this brave statement and decision Dick’s is responding to Stoneman student’s pleas. “We have heard you. The nation has heard you,” shared Stack.  Dick’s is careful  to note that it supports the second amendment, which preserves Americans’ right to bear arms but they note that, “Gun violence is an epidemic that’s taking the lives of too many people.” 

Where corporate citizenship is concerned Dick’s is making the thoughtful decision to transform as society changes and to be a conduit for the betterment of humanity. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but through this decision Dick’s Sporting Goods is showing that they place value on people over immediate, short term profits. 

This voluntary step to make our kids and communities safer is one that will only serve to elevate the necessary conversation about gun control.  And it showcases that in some instances corporate social responsibility isn’t about a photo opportunity or a perfect picture of hope, but that it is sometimes transformative decisions that define a brand and provide transparency as to what their true values are. 


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