The public debate has long ceased to be restricted to politics and the non-profit sector. The business community also has a responsibility to interpret developments and to initiate social themes by taking a position. In doing so, the CEO is the preferred person to take a step forward into the public debate. In this crisis time, the top director can largely facilitate this himself.
Companies should partake in the public debate more often. If they do not, the discrepancy may even become visible in this public debate. So do not hesitate, as the face of the company, to take a position. Otherwise you will be put on the sidelines. As CEO, you know that many current themes have a social responsibility aspect. A business is also a stakeholder, especially if an issue has an impact on the organization.
Contributing real solutions
Look at redesigning health care, reforming the labor market and solving the food shortage. These are all relevant themes of which multinationals are a part. Fulfilling the Climate Agreement is emphasized on every agenda, sustainable activity can now be accelerated and by 2030 the world must also be fed. These themes become even more relevant to society, even more political, when various stakeholders discuss them and come up with real solutions. Additionally, the business community can also partially withdraw the subject from politics. You engage in society by conducting in broad public debate. A CEO gains confidence with it.
Building a reliable reputation
Many multinationals show that they have a greater responsibility than making money alone. Especially in times of crisis, it is also about contributing to the redesign of society. On this basis, other discussions are also held at management tables about the future solutions to be proposed in the public debate. Acting from togetherness might require a mental change in behavior, but it contributes to a reliable reputation.
Fulfilling duty of care
The unprecedented impact of the corona crisis proved effective in motivating an entire country to engage in solidarity behavior. Necessary in this day and age, because in human behavior – including companies – safety is always out of enlightened self-interest. Then the follow-up question is how connected leading multinationals, with their CEOs as the figure-head, are currently established in society. Although many organizations are operating in uncertainty, they can become meaningful right now by propagating their serving social role. As CEO, do not be afraid to take a position in the larger context, see it as an opportunity to fulfill a social duty of care, act from a chosen position, speak from your heart on a topic that is relevant to you. And, above all, choose your medium carefully in order to enter into a well-prepared dialogue.
Society is changing and needs advice and insights from various stakeholders. At such a time, more is demanded from the business community. In the dialogue, do not only look at short-term goals, but develop a long-term vision. If you see it as your task to be socially visible it can lead to special partnerships with stakeholders and journalists in the transition that has already started. It also provides a foundation for later entering the history books as the leader of an organization that helped shape the public debate, from the heart.
Solutions for a common goal
The coming months will lay the foundation for social reform. Visibility through participation in a broad public debate is becoming more relevant than ever. Participate in this debate in a committed, entrepreneurial way. It is no longer appropriate for the Netherlands to place social responsibility solely with the government and the non-profit sector. Now let us make a difference in the public debate by sharing real solutions with each other.
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