Peer pressure is the influence and power one’s peer group has in order to encourage or persuade a person to change their attitudes, their thinking, their belief systems, their values, and even their deep inner feelings in order to conform to the group norm or ethic. It is an incredibly powerful force. There are innumerable reports of people asserting that they actually “surrendered” themselves to the group in order to be liked, approved of, and accepted. Very few of us have the wherewithal and/or courage to stand alone. Peers impact taste, likes/dislikes, one’s thinking and emotions, one’s values and beliefs, and even our spending habits.
This can become especially entertaining at corporate annual meetings when “the engineering of consent” is full throttle. Some meetings are pressure cookers, and persuasion can be the order of the day. “Group think” can rally. All shareholders must keep their radar on and “listen between the lines.” Human nature sets us up to believe what we hear and read. One can never be too careful in these circumstances.
Shareholder activism, corporate governance, and financial responsibility are platforms which need as much insulation as possible from peer pressure both within the company and between shareholders, boards, managers, and staff. Due diligence, accountability, and fiduciary responsibility are sacred corporate codes. Shareholders need to say what they think and feel, and ask unpopular questions when indicated. After all: it’s our money too. Equity is a key ingredient for quality stewardship.
Well-functioning shareholder peer groups can contribute loyalty, friendship, emotional support, warmth and affection, guidance, inspiration, and positive structure to the shareholder’s life. And impact their voting and “proxy behavior” in healthy ways. We are all truly known by the companies we keep, and in which we invest.
To contact Christopher Bayer directly, please email Christopher.Bayer@TheShareholderActivist.com.