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Writing Company Statements: 6 Best Practices

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley

How to Write a Company Statement

The impact of large-scale social movements on our history, and on the present moment, is undeniable. Movement leaders and members representing myriad cultures, groups, and philosophies have pushed for cultural change, often shaping and shifting society in fascinating and lasting ways. Among many other ripple effects, cultural movements impact how companies of all sizes communicate and do business.

Most of these social movements have a goal in common: a culture of equality. Many business leaders feel compelled to speak up by sharing a company statement on their website. But unless you have true strategies for equal opportunity in place behind that statement, you’re putting your people, and your company, at risk.

Here are some key points to consider when your executive team (or marketing agency) sit down to craft a corporate statement in response to social or cultural issues.

Crafting Company Statements: 6 Things to Consider

1. Do: Always Communicate Impact of Any Changes on Customer Relationships

Before your leadership team publishes a company statement or makes it public online, take a moment to reflect. Think about how a given social or cultural movement and their goals intersect with the work you do, your team members, and the customers you serve. Acknowledge how it is relevant to you in any statements, commitments, or policy adjustments you make. Be sure your customers know any ways their experience will change and improve.

2. Don’t: Pay Lip Service or Be Superficial

We’ve seen this happen over and over: leadership rushes to make a statement in favor of some significant social change, only to be taken to task immediately on their principles. Take the Washington Redskins for example.

The team is only this week beginning the process of changing their name and their logos, though they’ve been criticized about it since the 1940s.

The name-change decision had not been made when the popular NFL team participated in a “social media blackout” in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM) by tweeting a black square.

Many of their followers responded almost instantly, holding them accountable for racial and cultural sensitivity their own practices didn’t meet.

You don’t want to end up in that situation when crafting a company statement. Any statements you make can be directly connected to actions. Make sure those connections are positive ones.

3. Don’t: Make Social Media Posts the Endgame

It’s important to go beyond a social media post or video when making company-wide statements about social change or unrest. Social media is an important tool for communicating with your clients and customers, and it is definitely a way to get them to engage with you when talking about the issues being brought to the forefront by current events. But it’s important to remember social media is only one means of connection. It’s not meant to be the final step or action in any serious strategic planning for greater equality or transparency.

4. Do: Determine Your Specific Commitment to Equal Opportunity Practices

Official statements of any kind put your values, and your credibility, in the spotlight. It's a great opportunity to demonstrate your values when done well. If you do opt for making any public corporate statement, determine your level of commitment to equal opportunity (EO) practices first. Do you need to step things up to be in-line with statements you plan to make? Or is it simply a matter of reaffirming an existing commitment to your customers and your community? Either way, it’s never a bad idea to have EO on your radar, and to evaluate the results of those practices honestly.

5. Do: Be Sure Everyone is On Board with Planned Changes

Team members, stakeholders, vendors, and contractors depend on you for clear communication and consistent messaging. Before announcing a statement and accompanying policies to the public, your teams need to know what’s up. Just as you need to be clear about any policy changes you plan to make, it’s important to be sure that everyone in your organization is on board with any shifts in your organizational culture, your customer service, or your EO policies that may be happening in conjunction with a company statement. If not, you’ll be walking into a minefield.

6. Do: Show Your Commitment, Don’t Just Tell About It

A corporate statement can be meaningful, but it only carries weight when your decisions, actions, and practices demonstrate your commitment. If writing a statement is not a priority for your leadership team, acting with integrity should still be a central goal of any response to cultural shifts or community needs. New England industrial painting, cleaning, and flooring company Kaloutas does this well.

Three of the Kaloutas team members are pictured with the words “We value people. Our focus is not contracts and bottom lines – we’re about people, knowing your needs and meeting them” on a homepage banner. They are arm in arm. The photo reflects both the camaraderie and diversity of their workforce. Whether or not you make a corporate statement in response to community needs or a social climate, people need to know you care. Find ways to demonstrate your commitment to your principles in your business practices, and get creative about how you share that with your customers, clients, and stakeholders.

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