The impact of cultural and social movements on the world is undeniable. Among many other ripple effects, they impact how companies communicate and do business.
Most of these movements have a central goal in common: equality. Many business leaders feel compelled to speak up by sharing a company statement on their website. But unless you have true strategies for equal opportunity in place behind that statement, you’re putting your people, and your company, at risk.
Here are some points to consider when your leadership group or marketing team sits down to craft a corporate statement about social or cultural issues.
BEST WAYS TO WRITE A COMPANY STATEMENT
1. Do: Communicate the Impact on Customer Relationships
Think about how a given social or cultural movement and their goals intersect with the work you do, your team members, and the customers you serve. Acknowledge how it is relevant to you in any statements, commitments, or policy adjustments you make.
2. Don’t: Pay Lip Service or Be Superficial
We’ve all seen people put their foot in their mouth by making a superficial statement that they don’t back up with identifiable actions and measurable changes. Take the Washington Redskins for example.
They participated in a “social media blackout” in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM) by tweeting a black square. But one of their followers was quick to respond in a way that held them accountable for cultural sensitivity changes their own organization has yet to make. [Though they’ve been criticized about it since the 1940s, the team has yet to change their name and many of their logos. The name uses a racial slur, and the logos rely on stereotyped images of Native Americans and their culture.] You don’t want to end up in that situation when crafting a company statement. Any statements you make can be directly connected to actions. Make sure those connections are positive ones.
3. Don’t: Make Social Media the Endgame
Social media is an important tool for communicating with your clients and customers, and it is definitely a way to get them to engage with you when talking about the issues being brought to the forefront by current events. But it’s important to remember social media is one means of connection. It’s not meant to be the final step or action in any serious strategic planning for greater equality or transparency.
4. Do: Determine your Level of Commitment to Equal Opportunity Practices
If you do opt for making any public corporate statement, determine your level of commitment to equal opportunity (EO) practices first. Do you need to step things up to be in-line with statements you plan to make? Or is it simply a matter of reaffirming an existing commitment to your customers and your community? Either way, it’s never a bad idea to have EO on your radar, and to evaluate the results of those practices honestly.
5. Do: Be Sure Everyone is On Board
Just as you need to be clear about any policy changes you plan to make, it’s important to be sure that everyone in your organization is on board with any shifts in your organizational culture, your customer service, or your EO policies that may be happening in conjunction with a company statement. If not, you’ll be walking into a minefield.
6. Do: Show It, Don’t Tell It
Above all, show it, don’t tell it. If writing a statement is not a priority for your leadership team, acting with integrity should still be a central goal of any response to cultural shifts or community needs. New England industrial painting, cleaning, and flooring company Kaloutas does this well.
Three of their team members are pictured arm in arm on a site banner with the words “We value people. Our focus is not contracts and bottom lines – we’re about people, knowing your needs and meeting them.” The photo reflects both the camaraderie and diversity of their workforce. Whether or not you make a corporate statement in response to community needs or a social climate, people need to know you care. Find ways to demonstrate your commitment to your principles in your business practices, and get creative about how you share that with your customers, clients, and stakeholders.