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Companies are increasingly expected to take a stand on social issues, particularly if they have committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. More and more companies are pressured to take sides and issue position statements to address social issues.
While employees and stakeholders increasingly expect leaders to use their voices to address what is happening in the world around them, there are risks in saying nothing, commenting on everything, or commenting without fully appreciating what might be involved. The impact on employee relations and stakeholders can be considerable.
The Four “C’s”
Sarah Black, Global Communications Consultant for The Kaleidoscope Group’s Global Practice, outlined the dilemma in an episode of the company’s Becoming Inclusive Podcast, hosted by Kat Potts and Reggie Ponder. In the podcast, Black outlines what she refers to as the “Five C’s framework” which reflects: Culture, Cause, Community, Care, and Consequences.
With increasing pressure on organizations to take a public position or to react to social issues, Black recommends having a framework in place to determine when and how to get involved.
The first C is culture. This means reflecting on whether speaking up on a particular issue is in line with an organization’s values and commitments to its people and stakeholders. Often this is a case of an organization’s insides matching its outsides. As Potts highlighted, employee recruitment and retention are often impacted by culture and how an organization lives its values. People tend to be happier in organizations that they feel share their values.
Knowledge and understanding of the cause are key.. Sometimes an event is so tragic that it demands an immediate response. Still, often it is wiser to take time to gather information to make not only a meaningful statement but to follow it up with action to make an impact on an issue.
When companies do decide to respond they must demonstrate real care and concern, rather than issue statements that are more performative in nature or that could be seen as “virtue signaling.”
The last “C” in Black’s framework is consequences—which can be either positive or negative. When determining whether or not to engage in a social issue, potential effects have to be weighed deliberatively and honestly, and with the understanding that the risk in saying nothing may be as significant or greater than speaking up.
All in all, companies need to be cautious and intentional when speaking up and taking action on social or other issues. Considering these Five “C’s” should help them do precisely that. Watch the discussion here now. And let us know what you think by leaving a comment, following us on YouTube, and subscribing to Becoming Inclusive for even more timely and relevant “real talk” about issues that matter to everyone.
Thanks for joining us, and a special thanks to our subscribers. Consider becoming one today. Becoming Inclusive is presented by The Kaleidoscope Group, your full-service Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion partner serving clients worldwide. Learn more and continue the conversation and kgdiversity.com