Perspective: Should Businesses Speak Out on Big Issues? 

Having a plan in place for how your business will address high-profile topics is a big decision that should be made before the need arises.


February 7, 2024


Insights, Global

Imagine a scenario where a controversial and scandalous issue is being discussed everywhere. Everyone is talking about it, and everyone has an opinion. And, of course, their opinion is correct. Considering this issue’s high profile, the question is, should your business join the conversation? Should your leadership make a statement online or share your thoughts in conversation within your industry? The answer to this question can be a challenging one. Considering that 82% of shoppers make purchases based on the values of an organization and whether they align with theirs, not making a statement can be as damaging as making one, thus putting your bottom line at risk.

To speak or not to speak is a crucial business decision that requires careful consideration. When and what to say if your business decides to speak out is vital because timing, tone, and wording determine how your message is received, making it highly delicate. Companies should have these conversations when developing and outlining their mission, vision, and values. It’s like the prenuptial agreement of an organization. You are having hard conversations about important issues, developing a plan for moving forward, and what to do when specific problems arise. If a business does not have these systems in place, consider this your sign to build a plan so that when issues arise and your organization is faced with a big decision to respond or not to respond, you know exactly where you stand and what your business will and will not address.

Is speaking out a requirement or expectation? No one can force a business or anyone to make a comment or have a position. Companies can do the same, just like an individual who may choose to be apolitical. Businesses that choose to, for example, be apolitical and not discuss social issues can consider this their business boundary and accept whatever consequences, if any. For businesses that are led by their values and value the respect of their industry, target audience, and the communities they serve, choosing to speak up or out is part of their brand. If your business is wondering how and when to speak out on social issues important to you, below are four questions to consider when deciding if and when you should.


Does making a statement reveal the heart of your organization?

Every company has a heart, and that’s its culture. Your business culture is the heart and soul of your organization. It’s the personality, the character, the energy of your business. When making a statement or taking a stance, you should reveal the heart of your business. It’s important to consider whether your statement will help your target audience connect with your brand, and if that’s a top priority for your business, whether taking a stance can help you achieve that goal.


Is the timing right?

Do you have all of the facts? Do you want to get ahead of the story or let it play out more before responding? Should you gather more information before responding to provide a well-informed statement? In business, timing is crucial, mainly when communicating with your target audience or industry. You don’t want to miss the mark because of timing.


Will there be a backlash? If so, are you willing to accept it, if any?

Taking a stance means your team and leadership are willing to take the praise or criticism that may come with it. Everyone appreciates receiving positive feedback, but is your business willing to express your position, even if it may not be well-received? While it may be considered brave, it is also risky in business. Weighting all possible reactions and responses to your statement is necessary when deciding to share how your business feels about an issue.


Is your statement honest?

If you need to make a statement in response to an internal or external situation, it’s essential to provide evidence that supports your statement and ensure that it is accurate. You don’t want to have to make another statement about the same thing – it’s a waste of your time and your audience’s time. Where relevant, it’s also essential to provide a factual statement demonstrating your steps to ensure that whatever situation you respond to won’t happen again. Failure to do so erodes trust and damages your brand reputation. Ensure your statement is transparent and resolves the problem you’re responding to.

Sharing how one feels in any personal or business situation is always a risk. Someone is likely to be offended, or what was said can be misinterpreted and taken out of context, causing a strain on your business or the customer relationship with your brand. When making a statement on behalf of your business on topics subject to criticism, be okay with not getting it right but being willing to make it right. If your organization does not have a plan, consider this a sign to implement one and start the discussions to ensure you’re equipped with the tools to make a statement you’re proud of. One that your audience, your team, and stakeholders can get behind.


Reaching Your Target Audience Through In-Store Business Marketing Messages  

Next story