Reputation Risks and Rewards From Taking A Stand on Social Issues
Companies have had a challenging year navigating changing expectations for companies in society, with many finding themselves facing public pressure to take a stand on both domestic “culture wars” and actual global conflict. Even organizations that say they are prepared to respond to societal issues sometimes feel less certain about exactly what to say or do when confronted with one. That may be in part because companies are not sure how their stakeholders will react, or they fear negative blowback.
In June, we asked the Transformative CEO Community about how they perceived the reputational impact of taking a stand on societal issues. Among those who had taken a public position on such an issue (the vast majority of the companies responding to our poll), roughly 4 in 10 said that they had observed negative impact among most/all stakeholder groups, while another 4 in 10 said they had experienced positive or mixed impact, as a result of their public stance. These data suggest the importance of, and challenges inherent in, meeting the weight of stakeholders’ changing expectations for the role companies play in society.