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Should Your Company Take a Stand on Political Issues?

Over the last four years, companies have been under pressure from their employees, customers, investors, and the communities in which they operate to take a public stand on high-profile political and social movements. According to research from the Edelman Trust Barometer, 54% of employees believe that CEOs should speak publicly on controversial political and social issues they care about. Similarly, 53% of consumers agree that every brand has a responsibility to get involved in at least one social issue that does not directly impact its business, per the Harvard Business Review.


But should your company take a stand on political issues? And if so, which issues? How can a company create a statement that is reflective of a diverse group of people? Not every company can take a stance on every issue, nor would we want to live in a world where that happens. It would be exhausting! Here is a guide on the advantages and disadvantages of taking a stand to help you make the right decision for your business.



Advantages

  1. Reinforces brand identity. If a current social issue relates to your company’s core values, it might help to publicly take a stance on a trending matter. For example, if you sell environmentally responsible products and have environmental conservation as core values, then supporting something like a debated climate change law could potentially be a great way to reinforce your brand identity, similar to Patagonia.

  2. Boosts awareness. Joining a political debate, especially online, can get your company noticed. The more conviction you have in your stance, the more powerful it is. Liking, commenting, and sharing can bring your brand in front of more eyes. This can lead to greater brand awareness.

  3. Create loyalty. One recent Nielsen study revealed that 81% of the millennial respondents expected their preferred companies to make public declarations of corporate citizenship. In another survey, 87% of the Americans polled would support a brand that advocated for an issue they cared about. This means that the majority of Americans would support brands that uphold an important issue to them, establishing brand loyalty.


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Disadvantages

  1. Alienate a portion of your customers/clients. It is important to note the risk of losing customers that support the opposite side. Taking a political stance could result in more than losing a segment of customers, but result in a full-on boycott. This happened to Goya Foods after its CEO made remarks praising former President Donald Trump at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in early 2021.

  2. Offend employees or investors. Make sure that your team is on board with the message, otherwise, you could risk losing some of your key players. We recommend that prior to sharing communication around high-profile political issues, employers first speak with their PR department and legal counsel.


Finally, it’s important that businesses don’t choose to speak up about social or political issues because they see a business opportunity in doing so. There are topics of fundamental human decency that should unite us all. However, if you’re somewhat risk-averse, taking sides on a triggering social issue might not be the best call. There are other ways to have a positive social impact by aligning with charities or organizations that everyone can get behind if a public stance is not the best route for your company. The bottom line - everyone can do their part to make this world a better place.



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