With the midterm election drawing to a close, most of us are looking forward to the campaign ads ending so that we can get back to a quieter and less-contentious time, where we focus on closing out the fourth quarter strong without the constant drone of politics everywhere we turn. Maybe 10 years ago that would have been possible, but leaders can no longer sit back and only focus on business. Employees, customers and investors all want to know where your organization stands on important issues.
I don’t consider this to be “wokeness” or cancel culture at play. Before someone invests precious time or hard-earned money into an organization, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask whether that organization and its leadership is aligned with your values – or at least not actively working against them. When you consider that trust in our country’s institutions is at an all-time low, it makes sense that executives and CEOs are being called on for more transparency.
In fact, according to the Edelman 2022 Trust Barometer, business is really the only trusted institution we have left right now. So if business leaders are going to need to wade into social issues more and more, here are some steps you can take to help navigate the pitfalls.
- First, review your company’s mission and values and act in accordance with them. (And immediately address any areas where you are not living up to your stated values.)
- Next, assess where your employees, customers and other stakeholders stand on key issues and what they expect from your organization in relation to what is happening socially. Work with your human resources leaders or whoever is responsible for company culture. This kind of exploration can be done with anonymous short surveys if necessary.
- Finally, look inward at your organization and determine the issues or topics where you have genuine credibility.
Leaders and organizations shouldn’t feel the need to take a stand on every issue they read about in the news. At the same time, silence can also speak volumes. When the time comes for your organization to make its opinion known, do it with authenticity and conviction, knowing your employees and customers will appreciate that you have their backs when it counts.
Photo credit: Edelman 2022 Trust Barometer