Warren Buffett is famous for pontificating on everything from the business world to nuclear war during Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRK-A, BRK-B) annual shareholders meeting. But at this year’s gathering, the CEO explained why he’s not speaking on politically charged topics — because doing so could affect Berkshire and the companies it invests in.
“I don’t want to say anything that will get attributed basically to Berkshire, and have somebody else bear the consequences of what I talk about,” Buffett said.
“Why in the world do I want to hurt the people in that other room that do all kinds of things for Berkshire? Why do I want to hurt you? Because I say something that 20% of the country is going to instantly disagree with. And sometimes they will be so upset about us that they will try and…have campaigns against our companies.”
Buffett has long spoken on topics ranging from economic inequality to health care, but the CEO says he’s moving further away from discussing controversial topics.
“I don’t put my citizenship in a blind trust when I take the job as CEO of Berkshire,” Buffett said. “But I’ve also learned that you can make a whole lot more people sustainably mad than you can make temporarily happy by speaking on any subject. And on certain subjects, they will take it out on our companies.”
CEOs have increasingly stepped up their efforts to support social causes, whether it’s Apple CEO Tim Cook and his outspoken support of civil rights, or Disney and its belated fight against Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
While Apple hasn’t faced much backlash for supporting such efforts, Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis is striking back at Disney by pushing the state’s legislature to repeal the entertainment giant’s special tax status that allows it to operate as its own kind of government.
For his part, Buffett says that he is treading more carefully when it comes to speaking out about politically charged issues.
“The best thing to do is to basically shut up and not have a bunch of people facing consequences that they didn’t ask for in the first place,” he added.
More from Dan
Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.