January 30, 2017
A poll asked a panel of business school professors to grade Lyft and Uber on their reactions to Donald Trump’s executive order barring visitors and refugees from seven Muslim countries. Lyft opposed the ban and donated $1 million to the ACLU, while Uber was more equivocal, saying they would bring it up when CEO Travis Kalanick goes to Washington on Friday.
The panel gave Lyft a “B” and Uber a “C+” for their respective actions and statements.
The Real Time Expert Poll © involves a panel of experts hailing from 39 world-renowned universities, including Oxford, Cornell, Columbia, INSEAD, Georgetown, Princeton and University of Pennsylvania. The panel periodically grades companies that take political stands, and also rates those companies on their transparency, consistency and other dimensions. The poll is administered by Drexel’s Institute for Strategic Leadership in partnership with the American Marketing Association.
A total of 21 professors participated in this edition of the poll. Grades from panelists ranged from “A” to “F.” The average grades were calculated using a standard GPA calculation. For Lyft, the grades varied by the political leaning of the panelist, with left-leaning professors more positive than right leaning ones. Grades for Uber were quite low across the board.
“The panelists clearly see Uber as on the losing end of this political development. Not only has it harmed the brand psychologically, but there appears to be a migration to Lyft,” said Daniel Korschun, an associate professor at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, and lead administrator of the poll. “President Trump’s executive order has revealed a stark difference between these two companies.”
The professors on the panel found that Uber has stumbled. Their reaction was business focused, but their decision to operate during publicized taxi walkout “seemed out of step with the stance taken in the letter about standing up for what is right.”
Still, not all saw Lyft’s response as appropriate. “Lyft seems gratuitous in its one-off donation, wrote one panelist, “How much of a lasting impact can $1million to ACLU be? They’re throwing away money without creating a lasting impact.”
Similar polls will be administered periodically when a company takes a public stand on a political issue. Panelists self-report their political leaning as liberal, middle of the road, or conservative.