According to a recent New York Times article, “Chief executives across the business world are increasingly wading into political issues that were once considered off limits — like gun control and climate change — but they might not be moving fast enough.”
The Edelman Trust Barometer (cited in the article) backs up that assertion. Sixty-four percent of respondents believe CEOs should take the lead on change instead of waiting for government to impose it. Eighty-four percent expect CEOs to inform conversations and policy debates on one or more issues. And 56% said, “they have no respect for CEOs who remain silent on important issues.”
The evidence of CEOs staking out positions on which they once remained silent is everywhere. Consider that, in the wake of the Douglas High School shooting in Florida, CitiGroup and Bank of America enacted policies regarding their relationships with gun makers. Other companies have taken sides on immigration, race relations, income disparity, sustainability, sexual orientation and gender rights, and a range of other issues that can be divisive.
In addition to consumers supporting organizations taking sides, employees are also in favor of their companies taking action. A 2016 Public Affairs Council found 70% of respondents said employees had influenced their companies’ decisions to get involved in social issues.
On Thursday, May 17, four IABC Fellows participated in a live online conversation about the emerging role of CEOs as the new global community leaders. The topic was also IABC’s editorial theme for May: “CEOs and other leaders are increasingly looked to weigh in on social and political issues. But how do you determine when your leaders should take a stand? We’ll examine key indicators for when leaders should make statements and review research about this trend.”
The panel included James Lukaszewski, Ned Lundquist, and Leticia Narvaez. FIR podcast host Shel Holtz moderated.
James E. Lukaszewski, America’s Crisis Guru ®, is a bestselling author, national speaker, and trusted strategic advisor to FPO and NPO business operators and leaders during crises, disasters, reputation attacks, contentiousness and when the boss’s future is at stake. Corporate Legal Times listed him as “one of 22 crisis counselors to have in your speed dial when all hell breaks loose.” For more than 30 years, he has confidentially guided hundreds of company leaders thru tough, touchy, sensitive situations. Lukaszewski’s strategies inspire constructive, ethical problem resolving management behavior. A powerful and inspirational speaker, he teaches executives and managers the lessons he has learned. A prolific author, he is quoted and interviewed often as one of the most recognizable leaders in his profession. Lukaszewski is on the web at www.e911.com.
Edward “Ned” Lundquist, a retired U.S. Navy captain with 33 years of professional public affairs and strategic communications experience. He is a principal science writer at MCR Federal in McLean, Virginia, supporting government clients; and has his own company, Echo Bridge LLC, which provides outreach and advocacy support to commercial clients. He served on active duty for 24 years in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer and public affairs specialist. Captain Lundquist was a Pentagon spokesman with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Director of the Fleet Home Town News Center, and director of public affairs and corporate communications for the Navy Exchange Service Command. His last tour of duty was commanding the 450 men and women of the Naval Media Center. He is an accredited business communicator and award-winning communicator who served as president of IABC/Hampton Roads and IABC/Washington, director of U.S. district 3 and chair of the International Accreditation Council. He was named an IABC Fellow in 2016. Captain Lundquist is a member of the executive committee of the Surface Navy Association and chair of the SNA communications committee. He writes for numerous naval, maritime and defense publications and chairs and presents at communications, naval and maritime security conferences around the world.
Leticia Narváez, ABC, is CEO and Founding Partner of Narváez Group, a consulting firm focused on Strategic Communication, Employee Engagement, Corporate Reputation, Social Responsibility and Communication Training based in Mexico City. A 30 years experienced professional, she held management top level positions at Sanofi, Merck, American Express and Ford Motor Co. among others. She builds communication bridges with the utmost excellence standards. During her career path, she has been at the forefront of divestitures, mergers and acquisitions, diversity leadership, issues and crisis management, team and leadership development, strategic planning and senior executive consulting. She has been a speaker at international forums, is co-author of several books and manuals on business communications and has written a large number of articles on the subject. Leticia has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Public Relations from the Latinoamericana University, a Master Degree on Digital Communications from Cantabria University and a Postgraduate Diploma on Top Business Administration at the Panamerican Institute of Top Business Administration – IPADE-.