Every leader should be an activist , not a passive player , and ensure their organisation is a positive force for change .
s we mark the anniversary of the death of
George Floyd on 25 May 2021 , leaders of the largest global corporations worldwide may well be asking themselves : what has really changed ? On twitter feeds and LinkedIn posts , we will read declarations from CEO after CEO about the injustice of the tragedy and how organisations must become more inclusive . Future generations may look back on this moment and remember it as a turning point for society — or simply as another missed opportunity .
I believe the direction we take depends more on corporate leadership than ever before . Especially for younger generations , brand choices increasingly come down to which organisations they believe are a force for good in society . As a leader , you have an essential part to play to ensuring your organisational brand is a positive force for change in society . The essential question each leader is required to ask themselves is “ how do I deliver an inclusive brand ?” Your ability to do this is served by the three dimensions of : trust , partnerships and activism .
Trust : As an inclusive leader it is important to be consistent and credible with what you stand for and how you communicate this to your market and customers . For example , Dan Schulman , president and CEO of Paypal , leads an industry conversation called ‘ Never Stand Still ’ hosting virtual discussions with chief executives , athletes , artists , civil rights leaders , and philanthropists around the world . He stated in a recent blog : “ I ’ ve long said that profit and purpose aren ’ t mutually exclusive ; they work hand in hand . Companies have so much power to make change , and it ’ s encouraging to see so many taking action now .”
Partnerships : An inclusive leader looks to engage and build external partnerships that benefit society and the employer brand . Kerry Dryburgh , executive vice president and chief product officer at BP , frequently shows support for non-for-profit organisations , initiatives and events . Whether this is posting about World Autism Awareness Day or joining movements such as The Valuable 500 ( a global business initiative for disability inclusion ) she is using both her personal brand and the BP brand to shine a light on important issues . As a leader , especially if engaging with social media , it is
As a leader , you have an essential part to play to ensure your organisational brand is a positive force for change in society
important to be authentic when building partnerships with relevant organisations . You may decide to support a breadth of initiatives from a distance or focus on one partner indepth . The key is taking action and following through on commitments .
Activism : Management guru Peter Drucker noted that “[ the corporation ] is in trouble because it is seen increasingly by more and more people as deeply at odds with basic needs and basic values of society and community .” Although written almost 75 years ago , his point is just as relevant today . The United Nations ’ Sustainable Development Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty , protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone , everywhere . The 17 Goals were adopted by all UN Member States in 2015 , as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development , which set out a 15-year plan to achieve the goals . Today , progress is being made in many places , but , overall , not advancing at the speed or scale required . As corporate wealth and power increases and becomes more concentrated , the responsibility to be a driver of inclusion and ‘ compassionate capitalism ’ becomes critical .
Each leader , regardless of hierarchy , can make a decision to be an activist , rather than a passive player . This involves considering which issues pose the biggest threats to inclusion in society and identifying the specific point of view you wish to commit to and advocate . Consider , how this aligns with your organisation ’ s purpose and goals . Where there is a mismatch , what can you do internally to initiate and influence change in the right direction ?
Leaders sit at the nexus between the brand people purchase and the brand people work for . The more senior the leader , the greater the impact on both . Those who recognise the part they play and take the appropriate action will not only help their brand to stand out from the competition but will also make a sustainable difference too .
Dev Modi is a partner at Equiida . He is a leadership expert and chartered organisational psychologist , specialising in inclusion and diversity .