Never before in our history has corporate America faced such dramatic change. Not only has the pandemic turned the business landscape upside down, but now, corporate leaders find themselves wrestling with a host of high-profile social issues that have divided the nation. Senior leaders are discovering just how difficult it can be to navigate the complexities of social justice. The Black Lives Matter movement, voting rights legislation as well as health equity have been leading the headlines lately, but below the surface rest a host of other issues that are capturing the attention of the new generation of socially active employees. Advocacy groups are also pressuring CEOs to take stances on issues that were once considered taboo by business leaders. What to do is now the talk of many board rooms across the nation.

On the surface, engaging in social issues may seem like a logical step for a company given the shifts in society, but before stepping into those waters, it would be wise to take a closer look at the issues involved. The landscape is riddled with companies that thought they were standing up for the right cause, only to be sliced to pieces by critics who claimed their actions did not match their words of concern. Below are five factors that can help you navigate those challenges.

  1. Resist jumping to conclusions too quickly. Take the time to educate your team about the details of the issue. This type of decision should be made after careful consultation with leaders in the organization that touch the different audiences you serve.
  2. Start with the end in mind. What is the ultimate objective you are looking to achieve?
  3. Transparency, authenticity and humility are key. These are difficult issues, and it’s okay not to have clear-cut answers.
  4. Consider the long-term effects. What you say today needs to be something you can commit to in the future.
  5. Marry words with actions. “Support” should include tangible ways in which the company and brand is responding. 

To help leaders explore all of the aspects of this decision, Padilla has developed a Social Issue Scorecard that we use to guide senior leaders through this process. Gaining outsider perspective can help ensure that internal politics don’t shortcut a thorough and thoughtful process.    

Contact us to learn more.

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