Activism in the business community usually happens through takeovers, and there are many people in the business world who prefer to buy into companies that are going to give them a voice. Cliff Robbins is someone who has decided to take a different direction in his own activism as he makes deals with companies like RJR Nabisco to make change in the world. Robbins is an activist in the business community, but he is able to be an activist who is working with boards of directors to make changes to the companies from within.
Activists who are working on the outside rarely have any impact because they are standing on the outside looking in. There are activists in the business community who just take over, but Robbins thinks it is going to be much easier to make a change while he is sitting in the boardroom.
Creative activism works well in the accounting world because the people in these businesses are going to see returns that were not previously going to happen. The world of businesses and finance speaks to people who get results, and activists who are getting results are going to be easier to listen to than someone who is just taking over.
The infamous character Gordon Gecko publicly destroyed his opponents in a board meeting in the movie Wall Street, and he continued to do so in the sequel. That kind of activism is giving way to someone who is willing to politely ask for change while showing what change can do. There are still many activists out there who write with poison pens, but people like Robbins are taking a kinder approach.
“The number of transactions that Cliff and Blue Harbour have achieved relative to most others is fairly significant, and yet you don’t really see him out there in the headlines,” said Gregg Hymowitz, whose $12 billion Entrust Capital Management invests with Blue Harbour and other activists.
The world of business and finance is changing as investment bankers like Robbins are kindly asking for change in the companies that they invest in. Just a few small investments will help these investors get into board meetings that could change the world, and the world may see companies start to do the right things without being forced to do so. That would be quite a marvel in the world of money and profits.