While recent events have given many business executives to speak out corporations and the business leaders that run them are no stranger to political controversy. Whether it was dealing with divestment of South African during its apartheid or Pepsi trivializing Black Lives Matter

In speaking up or speaking out, however, CEOs should do so strategically with passion. If companies work harder at promoting their corporate values, we will not be that surprised when the speak out about a particular issue. In fact, we may embrace their message and help promote it and share it.

Some CEOs make a statement espousing their personal or religious views, such as Hobby Lobby's CEO denying contraception coverage to its employees, or Chick-fil-A's CEO opposing same sex marriages to other reasons such as the CEO of Starbuck's speaking out against white empowerment

While many people embraced these decisions and other's protested, they were each tied to the corporation's values.

Over the past few weeks corporations and the CEO's that run them, were faced with the difficult choice of speaking up about events in Charlottesville and what the President said or did not say. For CEO's that sat on the President's Manufacturing task force, many spoke up by focusing on America's values and what is the right thing to do.

Companies and CEOs today have the power to influence the public's agenda. Whether it is banning together to advance an agenda as part of a trade association or speaking up and speaking out on their own, employees and customers today are demanding the companies they work for or do business with share their corporate values, become more aware of current events and become more vocal on societal issues.

Whether it is a personal position or a corporate position it is a position that needs to be communicated to employees and investors and then rolled out strategically to the public through an integrated marketing campaign that will allow the position to have a greater impact.

People need to know why the company or its CEO is taking a position or how and why the company is working to influence important societal issues.  Then the company needs to communicate how their employees and/or customers can get involved and join them in that journey.

Earlier this year employees working for companies with annual revenue of at least $1 billion were surveyed.  The survey found that more than half (57 percent) of those working in America’s largest companies feel that their employers should play a more active role in addressing important societal issues. There is even greater support when looking at specific issues like

  • equal opportunity in the workplace
  • healthcare reform, and
  • renewable energy.

Other key findings from this nationwide survey include:

  • 50 percent of workers feel their company and/or CEO is facing growing internal and/or external pressure to be more vocal on important societal issues.
  • 45 percent say corporate America’s role in addressing issues is more important than it was a year ago compared to just 11 percent who say less important.
  • 44 percent foresee corporate America’s role in addressing societal issues increasing over the next year; only 18 percent see it decreasing.

Rather than hide behind a lobbyist, CEOs are starting to make significant contributions on public policy ranging from health care to climate change. Just as we want to hear from the President, we now want to hear from the CEO.

For a snapshot of the survey, visit Povaddo.

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