As the political divide in the U.S. grows wider and the presence of individuals and organizations on social media becomes more public, the eyes of the American people and those around the globe are in constant watch of what companies do to stand for or against a particular issue or candidate.
As an organizational leader, you may be facing a difficult decision as to whether you voice your opinion as an individual and where that leaves you as a company. While it has been commonly known to leave political opinions at the door, more companies are becoming more vocal about their support, or lack thereof, of certain hot-button issues.
Developing a corporate activism group within your organization can be costly and time consuming, however, as the leader of the organization, you can use your status and voice to become your own corporate activist. Being strategic about which political and social issues you address, and the ways in which they are addressed, are key in sharing the most appropriate message to your community. Here are five strategies and tactics that can best be used to express corporate opinions on these issues:
Building relationships with local, state, and federal officials is an important step in staying informed on the issues you care most about. Introduce yourself at public meetings, invite them for coffee or lunch to learn more about their campaign and the issues they support. Knowing the key players will inevitably put you at the table with those decision-makers, and by forming strong relationships, they will look to you for opinions, advice, and support on certain agenda items.
Use Your Voice
As a corporate leader, you already have a following of supportive team members who can believe in your overall corporate message. Use your leadership power to your advantage and call upon political leaders to listen to the issues you are most passionate about. Make frequent calls to certain elected officials and state your case in a professional and engaging way. Just as you have grown to be a well-respected leader in your company, the same can be accomplished to make a social and political impact.
Be Present and Engage
Being a corporate activist means being present. Showing up for public events and engaging with other attendees is a sure-fire way to get your voice heard and your name, and company name, to stand out. When attending events, make sure you ask questions or discuss an alternative solution to a problem.
Building relationships with other corporate leaders that support similar issues as you can strengthen your voice within the community. Meet your colleagues or leaders of industry-support organizations for lunch to discuss your opinion of certain issues and how you can best collaborate to make an impact.
Regardless of your strategy, being persistent with the things that matter most to you and your organization will ensure you fought hard to reach your goal. Develop a social media campaign, lead community discussions, and simply get your voice and your message heard. If it is important to you, do not rest until you have made your mark.
Using your voice and expertise as a corporate leader is a powerful and effective way to get the issues you are most passionate about heard and discussed. Stay in front of controversy and maintain dignity and a strong point of view when discussing social and political matters with others, especially if they may not agree. Sharing a thought-provoking message and encouraging discussions between a divided group can only make us more well-rounded and understanding of the issues that lie ahead.