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Photo: AP

Forget politics. The culture wars are raging in corporate America, and many CEOs and businesses are grossly unprepared. The war gets ignited by employees, shareholders, customers and social media. The wave of sexual-harassment scandals shows that companies have crime in their workplace. And the new, high-stakes collisions CEOs are getting pulled into include immigration, climate change, diversity and inclusiveness, and whether their ads run on controversial websites.

The problem: Most big companies are run by straight, white men who are unaccustomed to navigating a fast-changing America. And most comms departments were built for 1990s media, with 1990s speed.

Why it matters: In the social-media age, corporate reputation and corporate image matter as much (sometimes more) than the delivery of your product or service.

A behind-the-scenes adviser to some of the world's largest corporations told me: "The amount of time that these companies now have to spend on non-market [non-revenue] issues has increased exponentially."

  • Some of the newer topics, like climate change, affect both a corporation's culture and bottom line. "Sustainability has become a business requirement, not a political statement," the adviser told me.
  • Any business that cares about younger demographics has to ask: "Do you want to be associated with my company when you're making a purchasing decision?"
  • More companies, including entertainment and utility companies, are becoming more consumer-facing (for example, selling movies or phones directly).
  • Social media lets anyone call out a brand, in a way that can instantly metastasize.

Be smart: Axios CEO Jim VandeHei had vital survival advice for every organization in his post on our secret sauce and corporate culture, "The Axios Way: How you do it":"Think of your brand as a political candidate. You need to be hyper-aware of how you're seen by your core constituencies (employees and customers) and by the broader public.""How you do it: Be vigilant for signs of erosion in your base; or failing to respond forcefully to negative attacks; or under-utilizing technology to connect with your people in authentic, compelling ways."Sign up for Axios newsletters to get our smart brevity delivered to your inbox every morning.

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Go deeper

Rideshare companies say driver shortage is pushing prices up

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's not just you: Uber and Lyft rides are more expensive, company executives said this week.

Why it matters: Demand for rideshare is roaring back as the economy starts to reopen, but the same can't be said for drivers on the apps. That means fewer cars on the road, causing a supply gap that's pushing up prices.

Pelosi slams GOP leadership's moves against Liz Cheney

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week condemned Republican efforts to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House GOP conference chair.

Why it matters: A number of Democrats have spoken out against attempts to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Trump, framing the discussion as one essential to the maintenance of American democracy.

What to watch in AMLO's meeting with Harris

Three Mexico national guardsmen stand in front of the metro overpass that collapsed onto a busy highway. Photo: Julián Lopez/ Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Joint efforts to stem the increased number of migrants heading to the U.S. will likely be at the top of discussions when Vice President Kamala Harris and Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hold their virtual meeting on Friday.

The big picture: The U.S. government has consistently asked its southern neighbor to prevent immigrants from reaching the border, mostly through threats like former President Trump’s talk of tariffs.