Your Business Is Business


Your Business Is Business
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Your Business

As an executive, your business is running your business.

Every business should be run legally, ethically, morally and with concern for the well-being of its shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers and the communities in which it operates. That is a given; that’s why you are there.

But one of your additional responsibilities is to keep the organization running smoothly without becoming involved in unnecessary crises of its own making. For that reason, corporate statements on social issues should be avoided; they are huge publicity hazards.

Endorsing or paying lip service to the latest social fad is unproductive and, in the long run, unprofitable. That may make some of your activist employees feel good, but that glow will soon wear off.

You will have antagonized more people than you have pleased. Those whom you pleased will forget what you did for them and return to ask for more. It is difficult to break this cycle once it gets started.

Concentrate on the primary objectives of your business. Keep your company neutral on social issues. Avoid making statements or taking actions that put your company on one side or the other of the latest social controversy.

Every company has a few activist employees (sometimes on both sides of an issue) who want to tell you how to run your business. They press you to make public statements that will result in media headlines. Don’t do it. Publicity for their current movement is most important to them, and they may have little to no concern for what will eventually happen to your company as a result.

It’s worth noting that last year’s social fad may not be on the front burner this year, and this year’s fad may be the opposite of last year’s. 

For example, the campaign to defund the police inevitably led to higher crime rates in vulnerable communities, which finally caused many politicians to reverse their stance and call for more funding instead. When asked about their previous statements on this subject, those same individuals now seem to be suffering from amnesia.

Major League Baseball, Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola’s public endorsement of activists’ complaints in Georgia hurt some small business owners, many of whom those companies thought they were helping. Something similar happened to Disney in Florida, where there will be long-range tax repercussions. 

Your company will lose customers by getting unnecessarily involved in issues like these. It will not make many friends, and it will surely make some enemies.

It has been said that it costs ten times as much to acquire new customers as it does to keep existing ones. Keeping every single customer is important.

Being socially active as a company and announcing a strong position on controversial issues will turn off some of your customers. They will walk silently away, and they will never tell you why—but they will certainly talk about it to their friends.

Resist company involvement in social issues and concentrate on running your business. That’s what you’ve been hired to do.  

Jack Goodhue, management coach, can be reached at

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