No matter the reason, the root, or the cause, once an organization endorses something, they’re linked to it. Sounds ok, I guess. After all, who could argue against seatbelt safety or children’s education or the value of employee diversity?
Let’s take a closer look. I like to dive deeper into seemingly harmless decisions, like endorsements, to fully understand the impact and consequences. In this case, I’ve identified five reasons why I recommend organizations DO NOT take sides…
A corporate voice doesn’t speak for every employee.
We hear it all the time, a newspaper endorses so-and-so for President of the United States, this corporation stands up for legalizing this drug, that community group supports vaccinating our babies from a new virus.
Imagine we’re working at an organization and it comes out with a public statement advocating for one of the causes listed above, or worse, one of these:
Sounds ridiculous, until reality hits us in the head. Today, there is debate on issues that were once not controversial or even an issue at all – prisoners voting, wearing masks, sports team names, fracking, Christopher Columbus, the thirteenth Zodiac sign, Halloween moved from October 31 to the last Saturday in October (I’m still torn on this one!)
A “corporate voice”, is really the voice of a select few who’ve decided on the endorsement for their entire organization. This isn’t helpful in bringing people together, in fact…
It creates division, not inclusion.
There’s always two sides to the coin. Yes, always - in this world, anyway. So, if we choose one side, we exclude the other. Rivalries can be fun when it comes to sports teams, sports cars, and soft drinks - but when it’s about serious issues that could alter the course of an organization’s decision-making, where we work, it can be devastating.
Diversity and Inclusion is a priority in our organization, isn’t it? Therefore, how can we justify a single voice for an entire organization? We can’t and we shouldn’t. History has provided us with proof. Kings tried it with religion, dictators tried it with censorship, my daughters tried it with dating. It doesn’t last. And neither will our organization, because…
We’ll lose employees.
Undoubtedly. Whether we lose them in body or spirit, or tomorrow or next month, once something crosses the line against our morality, we usually move on and away. Why? Because people want to be near and help champion something they believe in – a leader, a product, a cause. And if our cause differs significantly with the choice someone else made for us… bye bye.
Best option is to let the adult individuals choose their own cause. It’s all around us if we pay attention - how many non-smokers work in the nicotine division of Philip Morris? Or vegans at a steak house? Or Republicans at a Democrat convention. 😊 (in jest, people. In jest!)
Yes, we’ll lose employees, and also…
We’ll lose customers.
Sadly, the word ‘boycott’ shows up too much these days for my taste. Personally, I don’t want to live in a world where I only shop at the stores, listen to the music, or dine at the restaurants where the ‘corporate voice’ completely aligns with my voice. How many times have you heard the statement “shut up and sing!” from the crowd when an entertainer decides to take a side. The same occurs with our organizations, although perhaps not as obvious or immediate.
Customers will go elsewhere if we push a cause down their throat. Just look at the fluctuation in ratings (usually down) for controversial positions that have been taken by sports organizations, movie stars, manufactures, and politicians.
And what’s worse…
It never ends.
The late great Gilda Radner’s character, Roseanne Roseannadanna put it so eloquently, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another! It’s always something.”
So, if we choose to pick a side, no matter how great the cause may seem on the surface, we may alienate our employees, our customers, and our partners – simply because, one voice does NOT serve all. Someone somewhere in your organization may agree with the other side of that coin. And in America, that is fine, but beware the consequences.
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