Mixing business with politics, in most cases, is not advantageous for your business. Companies accelerate and grow by the best use of the 4Ms of performance. I believe there is no financial justification for aligning a business with a political stance. This is even truer given the current politically explosive and emotional environment we currently find ourselves in.
What Goes Around…
It seems that politics has crept into business. So, it should come as no surprise when someone inside or outside your business is going to insist you take a stance on a political or societal issue. If that happens here’s what you need to do.
- The Who : Where is the inquiry or demand coming from? Management must question not only the source but the legitimacy and motivation of the request.
- Question Motive : If anyone made a request which required a strategic change for your business wouldn’t you have plenty of hard questions. You would never make a significant financial or branding decision without having a through understanding of its impact, risks, and overall market implications.
- Not Your Battle : No brand can be all things to all consumers. Nor can it solve all problems, particularly social ones. Your unwillingness to participate in a political cause may be labeled by advocates (who view everything through a political lens) as something it is not – so be it. However, if an issue doesn’t directly impact your business think hard before you stake your business’s reputation and resources to it.
- Outcome : What is the end result if you take on a high-stakes political posture? The outcome requires and demands a non-emotional analysis.
- Your Motivation : Vanity and not humbleness dictates politics. Everyone gets caught-up in the the right and wrong of political themes but you must dismiss your biases and human frailties and do what’s best for the business.
When at all Possible — Stay Neutral!
Refrain from responding too quickly to social media posts. Think before you tweet! It’s way better to avoid the confrontation and possible PR nightmare than to have to clean up after you’ve stepped in it.
It’s not suggested that you should never speak up or support a cause that is impacting your business. We all exist in a very competitive marketplace where the risk/reward isn’t justified for political stances — which are always win-lose.
Businesses are highly regulated so management must play the political game at some level. That may take the form of joining an industry lobby group or forming a PAC that donates to political issues. A political stand on a social issue is risky and fleeting.
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