Many corporate leaders across the country are debating what their response should be to the protests against police violence and racial injustice that have paralyzed the nation for more than a week. What would your company’s response be if corruption and misconduct were found within your organization?
Racial injustice and discrimination are forces that corrupt the corporate mission and core values of a corporation. The vast majority of corporate leaders would agree that the response to corporate corruption should be swift, definitive and followed by the implementation of systems, policies and procedures to make sure the corruption could not take place again. The response to racial injustice and discrimination of any kind should be dealt with the same way.
Chief executives and corporate board members are uniquely positioned to have a significant impact on how employees, customers and their communities experience what it is to be an American. As leaders, CEOs and directors can set the tone of how their companies deal with racial inequities inside their companies, and by extension, in America at large. Here are a few things that corporate leaders can do right now:
Speak out and clarify the company position. When an issue like this has gripped the nation, you can assume all stakeholders are interested in hearing from leadership. CEOs and directors can show their humanity by speaking out publicly (or internally within the company) and letting it be known that they believe in equal treatment for all American citizens, no matter their race, creed, color, religion or sexual orientation. Explain to employees and others what kind of America you want to live in and the kind of corporate culture you want to promote within your organization. Remember, there are so many people who are waiting for your cues so that they can decide if they want to “follow the leader.” If you fail to quickly clarify your position on this issue, others will determine what your slow response and silence mean. Appearing to be forced to address an issue of this magnitude will be viewed as a lack of leadership.