Why CEOs should get involved in social debates today
Business to business (B2B), business to consumer (B2C), traditional corporate communication: Many category terms we use today to systemize our communications leave out a central factor: the actors. After all, no institution can take a stand on its own, show empathy or classify the opinions of others. Only the people behind a brand can do that – not the companies themselves. At the same time, we observe that the leaders of companies are increasingly becoming the focus of society. The demands are increasing: More and more people expect top decision-makers to be actively involved in social debates.
Expectations of corporate leaders are rising
According to the latest survey results of the Edelman Trust Barometer 2021, the position of the CEO plays a prominent role here: while trust in politics and governments is declining, expectations of top management are rising: 68 percent of the respondents say that corporate leaders should step in when governments fail to solve societal challenges.
57 percent expect CEOs to be pro-active rather than to wait for politicians to lead the way. More than 58 percent want CEOs to feel obligated not only to the supervisory board and the shareholders, but also to society.
Tangible, understandable, practical
This trend gives rise to a special responsibility - and an opportunity that leaders should think about. If decision-makers in companies take a more active and open stance, while at the same time public interest in the board’s opinion increases, it becomes easier to give companies a face in the truest sense of the word. For communication, this has two concrete advantages: 1) Mission, vision and goals can be communicated in a way that resonates, is understandable, and practical, internally and externally, in the voice of the CEO. 2) Message credibility and trust in the company increase when decision-makers with a face and name stand behind the mission, vision, and goals, rather than just a company. Provided, of course, that words are followed by action.
Success grows with trust
Ultimately however, "CEOs in the spotlight" are not a communications tactic in and of themselves. The contrary is true: good positioning that creates trust also helps to achieve measurable business goals. Thus, companies that enjoy the trust of investors, customers, and partners tend to perform better on the stock market than their competitors, especially in times of crisis.
Should you have questions for your own communications planning, we’d be happy to advise you.