Social issues can pose a significant challenge and traditionally, organizations have steered away from entering these conversations for a number of reasons, including fear of sounding “too political” or needlessly launching the brand into controversy. Social issues and how organizations respond can quickly escalate into a crisis if not managed thoughtfully and intentionally.
Some leaders are willing to publicly share a position on a social issue, while others would rather stay quiet. Companies may choose to take a stand because a particular issue is of importance to their employees or customers; others seem to speak up at more convenient or financially beneficial moments. And many choose silence. In a world of rising expectations, an organization’s silence is often heard as acceptance, which is far riskier than choosing to communicate a values-based position and to act accordingly.
Today, we’re entering a period of time where leaders are now expected to speak up and share a perspective on behalf of their organization. When organizations choose to stay silent, consumers often craft a narrative themselves, which doesn’t often work in the organization’s favor.
Purpose Mission and Values in Crisis Response
Purpose, mission and values are strategic business guideposts that help organizations achieve their ultimate goals. When organizations are clear on their purpose, mission and values, they are better able to respond in times of crisis because they are clear on where the organization stands, who it stands for and what they stand up for. Today, it is critical for not only organizations and leaders to stand up and align with core values, but for the entire organization to follow suit. Being courageous and sharing a perspective of what you believe in is key to organizational success.
The Result of COVID-19 for Social Issues and Crisis Situations
The COVID-19 pandemic allowed individuals the opportunity to go inward and to analyze what they truly want out of their place of employment. This sparked a fire within today’s workforce to become extremely clear on their priorities and purpose. In addition, this gave organizations the opportunity to clarify their values and purpose with the intention of attracting a like-minded workforce who will be a fit for the organization long-term.
This reshuffling also opened up the aperture of where talent can come from and allowed organizations the chance to strategically select individuals for positions who will help the organization to get to where they belong.
The key to a swift and strategic organizational response during a crisis related to social issues is planning ahead. Planning ahead and aligning your organization’s purpose, mission and values to become crystal clear on where you stand, what you stand for and who you stand up for is critical. When your purpose, mission and values are strongly aligned to your organizational culture, it becomes clear where you will speak up.
Organizations that clearly define their purpose or mission, and activate values to support them, are well positioned for long-term success in a rapidly changing world.