Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
I recently read a point/counter-point type article in HR Magazine focused on “Should Employers Take Positions on Social and Political Issues?” It was an interesting read. Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not sure there was anything new or surprising in the article.
One person articulated the view that candidates, employees, and customers prefer to engage with organizations that have a positive impact on society. And that’s totally true. Now more than ever, we make decisions about the products and services that we purchase based on the reputation of the company. And that includes whether we feel they are a good corporate citizen.
The other person voiced their view that taking a stand can alienate candidates, employees, and customers. Also true … especially if your view is unpopular. And let us not forget that not taking a stand in itself can be perceived as an intentional decision – and alienate people. When everyone around you is taking a stand and you’re not, well … it kinda stands out.
As we’re starting to talk about the 2024 U.S. election cycle, this could be a good time for the organization to have an intentional conversation about their views. Because the organization’s social and political views are a part of their brand. Even if the company’s view is “We’re not going to comment on social and political matters.”, that becomes part of your brand. Because in today’s business environment, “no comment” is not a neutral statement.
I’m not here today to tell you what to believe and support. You’re smart and can do your own research. But I did want to remind everyone to find time to do your homework for yourselves and the organization. Developing an opinion about some of the most pressing issues facing business and society isn’t going to happen overnight.
Some readers might be saying to themselves, “Thanks for the reminder. We went through this exercise a few years ago. We’re good.” I think that’s great. I would suggest that the organization make sure their position a few years ago is still their position today. It’s possible that something might have changed. And that’s okay. Sometimes, we just need to take a moment to confirm the organization’s position.
I wish I could say that the upcoming election cycle is going to be boring and uneventful. But I think we all know that would not be true. Organizations need to talk about their views – even if it’s to say we’re not going to talk about it – because it directly impacts their brand and bottom line.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Jacksonville, FL47