Since the advent of the unrest following George Floyd's killing, there have been largely tepid corporate responses such as issuing empty statements af
Since the advent of the unrest following George Floyd’s killing, there have been largely tepid corporate responses such as issuing empty statements affirming the importance of Black Lives Matter or one-off tweets followed by a now unnerving quiet. It’s an eerie calm and it feels as though there has been a collective corporate sigh of relief with the hope that all this unrest business is over.
However, Corporate America is reading the tea leaves incorrectly. The relative quiet we see is not quiet at all, it is the calm before the next wave.
We are about to enter a potentially contentious and polarizing tidal wave as three looming factors approach – a US Presidential election, Covid-19 and national unrest. In other words, a powder keg waiting to blow.
Employees and customers are looking to companies to have a strong voice on societal matters, such as racial justice.
As leaders, it’s time to develop a corporate conscience and lead in ways that organizations of the past weren’t required.
Below are the five considerations that leaders need think through as they become more corporate conscientious.
1. Take a Stand
Corporate social engagement is actually good business. According to 2018 CX Trends Report by InMoment, “58% of millennials, 55% of GenXers and 51% of baby boomers think it’s important that brands they support invest in causes they care about.”
That means more than half of most people across a broad spectrum of ages want organizations to take a stand on causes of importance. It’s not only important socially but critical for the corporate bottom line.
2. Decide what your organization cares about
There will be many hot-button issues that will undoubtedly come up in the future. As an organization, you should have a values aligned approach in defining which issues to be vocal about and others that are not relevant to your mission.
If not, employees and customers will question organizational commitment if you’re silent or vocal because you haven’t effectively managed their expectations. Ultimately, organizations can’t take a position on everything and as a practical matter, there should be an informed and clear rationale for each action taken.
3. Develop a sound social impact strategy
Start with the basics – who, what, when, where, and why. Think about who should be involved in codifying the strategy, what the organizational commitments as well as actions will be, when to launch the effort, where to share the strategy internally/externally (i.e., company website, social media, etc.) and why the organization is taking a stand.
Answering those basic questions along with aligning to company values will aid in truly mapping all the dimensions of what’s needed. Keep it simple at first, and don’t try to boil the ocean as to what issues your company will champion. Ultimately, the most important elements to get right are being authentic, consistent and committed
4. Be consistent, active and accountable
Customers and employees will see through the performative, one time event actions and will hold organizations accountable if they see inconsistency in support. If you support BLM, hunger and homelessness or the environment today, there’s an expectation that you will support those causes tomorrow and into the future.
Share progress inwardly and outwardly so all parties can see developments, setbacks and/or triumphs. This creates accountability and demonstrates commitment.
5. Engage customers and employees
A more fulsome strategy includes involving others in causes the organization is committed to by enlisting the philanthropic sensibilities of their customer and employee base.
This could be a day of giving, time off for volunteering, employee marching campaigns, corporate partnerships, sponsoring certain causes or all of the above. Whatever the chosen action(s), involve others and bring them along to have more impact and most importantly, ownership in those causes of importance.
Broadcast legend Tom Brokaw may have put it best when he said, “It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.” Companies need and must make a difference, take a stand and grow a conscience.
This article is from Inc.com