#DeleteUber: Are Boycotts Effective In Creating Social Change Within A Company?

Following an essay detailing extensive sexual harassment by a female engineer formerly employed by Uber, there is a call throughout social media to #deleteuber.

A few weeks ago, that same hashtag was trending as a response to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stating he intended to meet with President Donald J. Trump as a part of Trump's advisory board, after President Trump had signed his Executive Order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries. The initial Uber backlash of 2017 prompted some negative media attention, but it proved to be fleeting. Through this hashtag, users of the ride-sharing service hope to stand up for their principles and initiate social change within the company. 

With the hashtag #deleteuber trending once again due to the female engineer's viral blog post about Uber's sexual harassment within the company, it serves to consider the effectiveness of a boycott in the 21st century. An episode of Freakonomics' podcast, released in January 2016, explores the impact of boycotts on a company - both in reputation and in financial profit. 

"Now, our question of the day, you’ll remember, was simply this: “do boycotts work?” Here’s what the evidence seems to suggest: The typical boycott is more smoke than fire. And it doesn’t often seem to financially hurt the targeted company. But, humans being human, and the court of public opinion working as it does, a boycott can color the reputation of a given firm —  as it has for Monsanto, and for its new plant scientist Ben Hunter. And a boycott, when it reflects dissatisfaction with a larger social issue, can become some wind in the sail. The way the Montgomery Bus Boycott did. The way that even — perhaps, maybe, who knows, maybe just a tiny bit —  the Chick-fil-A boycott did."

Listen to the podcast, or read the transcript, now. You can learn more about Uber's response to Ms. Fowler's essay here.

Words: Staley Sharples

Decoding the Dodd-Frank: Understanding Trump's Latest Executive Orders

Following a series of controversial Executive Orders within the first few weeks of his presidency, President Trump signed two more on Friday, February 3rd that show he intends to issue a review of the Dodd-Frank Act, as well as delay the implementation of the Fiduciary Rule. Both of these Obama-era regulations were direct responses to the global financial crisis of 2008. The Dodd-Frank Act, or the Wall-Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, is a 2,300-page piece of legislation first issued in 2010, with its’ provisions set to be put into place over the course of several years. Two of the most controversial regulatory bodies that the Dodd-Frank Act created are the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as well as a special branch of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that solely reviews credit ratings. Along with the Dodd-Frank Act, the Fiduciary Rule was developed to make sure financial advisors would act in the best interest of their clients regarding retirement accounts, only selling financial products that matched the exact need of the client. The Fiduciary Rule differs from the Suitability Rule, which is more relaxed and allows advisors to sell financial products that are similar in meeting the needs of the client, but may not be the exact product that the client has requested. 

The review of the Dodd-Frank Act and the halting of the revisions in the Fiduciary Rule appear to be in line with the Trump administration’s determination to dismantle the Dodd-Frank Act. Critics of the Dodd-Frank have claimed for years that its’ regulatory demands are too strict and uncompromising; while others state that repealing the legislation could result in another financial crisis akin to 2008’s collapse. Trump has additionally proposed bringing back a version of the Glass-Steagall Act, a financial regulatory legislation that was repealed in 1999. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who aided in writing portions of the Dodd-Frank Act, has also shown support for a re-institution of the Glass-Steagall Act. To note, the Glass-Steagall Act was issued in 1933 following The Great Depression, and separated investment banks from commercial banking activities. The repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act was a key factor in developing the conditions that allowed for the predatory, fraudulent lending in the subprime mortgage crisis, which in turn set off the global financial crisis of 2008. 

Trump has expressed his distaste for Dodd-Frank throughout his campaign, but in order to repeal it, he and his administration face considerable obstacles. To start, his memorandum to the Department of Labor for a review of Dodd-Frank and the Fiduciary Rule was vague in its’ aims. Regarding the review of the Dodd-Frank, the still-unconfirmed Treasury Secretary Steve Mneuchin is meant to meet with regulatory boards created by the Dodd-Frank, such as members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, in 120 days. 

There is outrage and skepticism facing Trump’s decision to review, and perhaps repeal, the Dodd-Frank Act, with some claiming that this may spark a global pattern of deregulatory action. As a relatively new legislative action, it can be argued that a review of the Dodd-Frank is a good idea; the primary purpose of the Dodd-Frank is positive and helpful, but perhaps its’ functions could be more efficient. However, it appears that Trump’s administration is less inclined in maintaining fair regulations on the financial services industry, but only time will tell. Keeping banks and financial advisors accountable and honest through law is crucial, but as Robert K. Merton’s theory implies, the only law that’s never been broken is the law of unintended consequences.

If you are disheartened by Trump’s Executive Orders and his plans for the Dodd-Frank and Fiduciary Rule, this may ease your worries: once a rule is created within government, it takes many, many years to actually undo it. You can learn more about how undoing a rule works in this episode of Planet Money. 

To learn more about the financial crisis of 2008 and the effect the repeal of Glass-Steagall had on it, watch Charles Ferguson’s documentary Inside Job. Inside Job is available for streaming on Netflix.

Words: Staley Sharples

App Review: Digit

Trying to save up for a getaway this summer? Hoping to buy a house in the next few years? Remembering to save is hard, and keeping that money you’ve set in your savings account is even harder – when the going gets tough, it’s always tempting to dip into your savings account for a little extra cash to get you through to next month. However, with Digit, you can set goals and save up your money without even having to think about it.

Digit is an app that connects to your checking account, and uses a chat bot to communicate with you about your finances and help you start saving. After analyzing your income and spending patterns, Digit will start saving a bit of money for you every two to three days, with the saved amount ranging between $2-$17. You can also set specific savings goals with a deadline, symbolized in the app with an emoji of your choosing, through Digit, or directly tell the app to transfer a desired amount of money from your checking account to your savings. The Digit app then transfers your saved money into an insured FDIC account, which you can access at any time. 

To connect to your checking account, the app uses 128-bit encryption, and does not save your online banking details. Once the connection has been made, Digit uses a chat bot that you can either text or message in the app to check your account balance or your savings, pause Digit’s saving for a time period, or see how you’re progressing on your different savings goals. The chat bot, while cute, only recognizes specific commands, which you can send through the Digit keyboard in the app. You can also send said commands through your iMessage conversation with Digit, but I prefer just using the app itself.

Digit is a great app for someone like me, who is still learning what financial management techniques and patterns work best with my lifestyle. Very low maintenance, with a daily check-in on your account balance, it simplifies and develops your relationship with your own finances. Digit’s reminders and interactive nature instills a discipline to track your savings and gives you the boost you need to start tucking money away for your goals, both short and long term. A bonus with Digit – when you refer your family and friends to the app, you receive $5! 

Digit is available for Android and iPhone