As we wait to learn the outcome of the election there are a number of things business can do to help keep people calm, informed and feel heard. Here is a list of ideas and actions CCOs should consider as you counsel your C-suite clients in the coming days and months.
Business Fills the Void—There is a period of stasis for government that could last until the inauguration on January 20. That leaves a void that should be filled by business, the most trusted institution as compared to government, NGOs and media, according to our Trust Barometer. Speak to your teams, give them fair and balanced quality information and correct dis-information.
Chief Do Officer—The CEO should be the Chief Do Officer with tangible actions in headquarters community on issues like Covid, education, and public safety.
Business Leaders Stand Together—CEOs should stand together as a coalition and insist that the electoral process be given time to work in a fair and transparent manner. This should be a public stance that is evidence of the business community’s desire for letting democracy run its course.
Brands Step Forward—Brands have a special role to play in the coming weeks, which is to solve and not to sell. This holiday season will be simply bizarre, with families unable to come together. Brands have been relatively quiet with their social traffic down 70 percent since Halloween, but we now need brands to stand up, speak up and show us a better future. Brands are our partners in life; we need you now more than ever. Heineken’s Worlds Apart campaign launched after Brexit is an example of how a brand can help bring people with drastically different beliefs together to find common ground.
Push For Diversity, Inclusion And Unity—Business needs to keep the pedal to the metal on diversity and inclusion. We should have public actions that stimulate all companies to follow; for example, pledge (as we have done) to double your purchases from minority-owned enterprises.
Put Employees First—Our employees are stressed due to Covid, economic pressures and now the election. We need to look out for one another and recognize the level of anxiety we are all dealing with. We must provide our people with the tools and resources to allow them to practice self-care. And we should offer them the time and means to support pro bono causes. Top executives should lead the way by joining local NGO boards. Listening to employees and making them part of the communications process is vital. They need platforms and opportunities to speak out.
I spoke to my team at noon today and told them that Edelman exists to serve. We will set an example in being calm, fair, fact-based, and decent in all of our dealings. I quoted President Abraham Lincoln, who in his first inaugural address, said, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of nature.”
Our democracy is strong, our will to do well and do good is unmatched. This period demands that companies live their mission, vision, values, act on behalf of society and speak up for all stakeholders. We will get through this together.
Richard Edelman is CEO.