How Businesses can be Proactive on Social Issues
With the global economy spinning out of control and major institutional failures turning political developments into hotly debated matters, businesses are feeling the pressure. If your organization is to survive, it must take on greater responsibility in a world full of discomfort and unrest.
What’s the Solution?
As Jordan Sudberg points out, the solution is not to be a reactive organization but instead to show initiative and be proactive. Being proactive means more than taking action once the crisis hits; but choosing what to do before the problem arises. Sudberg insists that employees should be encouraged to take action immediately when they notice a social issue. An organization that doesn’t respond in some capacity to an emerging crisis like racism or discrimination will be perceived as indifferent.
How Can Businesses Be Proactive?
With a closer look and an understanding of these issues, businesses can develop viable solutions with long-term, sustainable benefits.
Sudberg outlines ways in which a business can be proactive on hotly debated social issues:
1. Be responsive when issues arise
Have a diverse and inclusive team that can react quickly because you never know when or how a social issue will impact your business. The team must have a relevant understanding of the issue and a solid grasp of the company’s purpose.
2. Adopt a culture of openness and honesty
Openness is critical when in a business relationship with your stakeholders, especially in industries like financial services or high technology, where transparency is already considered an applicable standard.
How do you promote openness within your organization? Make it clear that honesty is a priority. At a CHRO event, it is emphasized that employees should be honest and open in their approach to performing day-to-day duties. This may mean providing forums for employees and stakeholders to share their experiences and points of view or giving them opportunities to ask questions related to a social issue.
3. Communicate with transparency
Communication is key here, as the stakeholders you’re trying to engage with the need to know that their voices are being heard and heeded. Transparency can be achieved through three means: listening, asking, and responding.
Do your best to listen to the issues and problems that are important to your stakeholders. Invite people to communicate their concerns and ask them some questions along the way. Above all, be responsive to enacting change within your organization.
4. Take an active stance against discrimination
Jordan Sudberg believes that being proactive doesn’t mean taking a side on hot-button social issues; instead, you need to be focused on equality and fairness for all citizens in a way that reflects your company’s values.
So what does it mean to take an active stance against discrimination?
This means you need to be willing to stand up when you see injustice. Support your employees and customers when they’re facing adversity because of their position, race, or gender. It’s also a good idea to sponsor community organizations where they can find support in the face of prejudice.
5. Act consistently
A business can be proactive on social issues as long as it follows through with its actions. This is best done by staying true to your ethics and values and showing everyone that you mean business. Forget about committing to something for the sake of public relations – if you’re serious about the cause, do your best to make it work for everyone involved.
Social issues are often tectonic in nature, so it’s important for businesses to be proactive and take on a social role for the sake of their stakeholders. The key is to be open, responsive, and aware amid these political developments. What you do from here on out will go a long way toward determining the success or failure of your organization.