Office policies and procedures are binding. Stationery on wooden shelf
Companies are increasingly being asked to comment on social and political issues. This raises a number of questions that the company needs to think about objectively.
There are many stakeholders that ask a company’s CEO and executive teams to speak out on a variety of issues.
Whether employees, customers and investors want an insight into the company’s philosophy and attitude to high-visibility issues.
The social concept of a company really came to the fore with the death of George Floyd as well as the latter’s major problems. This put a deeper focus on DEI, forcing companies to focus and question whether they truly understood the Black American experience.
A more recent issue has been the war in Ukraine, where companies have been expected by employees and other stakeholders to take a stand and publicly state whether they would continue doing business with Russia.
Another thorny issue is corporate crying against Wade, which he has had to deal with.
Boards need to ask what is the use of opening Pandora’s box by commenting on highly sensitive social/political issues.
It’s more important than ever to take the time to have in-depth internal discussions with the CEO, executive team and boards to create a framework and guideline about when and what the company will comment. This allows for a thoughtful approach without the feeling of emotion, e.g. B. How to react when there is a big topic in the news cycle.
If you’re considering commenting on a specific topic, ask yourself:
– Is it the core of your business?
– Which constituencies are most active/affected by this issue?
– Is it an issue that affects company policy, employees, customers, investors, or some physical aspect of the company? Or is it a question of personnel policy?
– How divisive/polarizing is the topic?
– Is commenting mandatory or optional?
Companies like Amazon AMZN, Yelp, JP Morgan and Dell have responded to Roe V. Wade by rapidly expanding employee health benefits. Some companies are upgrading insurance plans to cover contraception and allow for flexible expense accounts for reproductive health procedures.
Interestingly, according to the Conference Board, only 10% of companies have made a public statement on the issue, while about 51% of the companies surveyed have made an internal announcement. Organizations need to think carefully about which issues require an external public disclosure versus an internal statement to employees.
Think about it, does your company have more pros than cons to speak out on a topic? Build a balanced picture of your different stakeholders: customers, employees, investors.
Certainly, the company’s role has evolved since 2018’s landmark declaration by the largest Fortune 500 companies that they were moving from shareholder-centric to shareholder-focused.
However, it’s wise to remember that pioneers often get arrows in the back. Being a fast follower can be an alternative strategy to come across. If you’re considering making a public or internal statement, you should consider what best fits your company’s brand.
Often with household names and always in the news, Silicon Valley companies are just as communicative when it comes to taking positions on social issues because of their strong focus on their employee group, which educates about social issues. are very proactive…but remember that the imperative to provide feedback for a Silicon Valley company may or may not be an appropriate response for your company.
There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all, absolutely right answer, but it’s important to discuss the parameters and clarify when and if the company will speak out anyway before it becomes a hot issue.
One of the most difficult things in this highly interesting discussion is separating your personal politics, tastes and passions from company politics.
When in doubt, go back to the original description of your company’s values and remember your company’s mission, vision, and purpose.