Gilets jaunes, the Irish backstop, novichok poisoning. These were some of the phrases we've heard this year - and they've all had business and political consequences. Of all the lessons company bosses have had to learn in 2018, one of the most important is: CEOs have to be politically responsive. Business leaders have often kept their heads down during political controversies, as UK CEOs largely did during the 2016 EU referendum. In 2013, when I questioned leading US companies on their attitude to gun rights, they refused to answer. Political issues often divide customers; why risk alienating them? That changed this year - political issues have become too overwhelming to ignore. British business leaders spoke out about the perils of a no-deal Brexit. After February's shooting at a school in Parkland, Florida, US, several companies felt compelled to end discounts to members of the National Rifle Association. In trying to stem the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) street protests, French P...

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