Responding to social issues

Employee community leaders have a unique influence in organizations; colleagues and peers may look to you for support during difficult times. This guide outlines best practices for responding thoughtfully, authentically, and inclusively to social issues and current events.

Responding to social issues as leaders of employee communities

As employee community leaders, your voice has a unique influence in your organization. Colleagues and peers may look to you for support during difficult times. This guide outlines best practices for responding thoughtfully, authentically, and inclusively to social issues and current events. It is designed to foster engagement that is thoughtful, meaningful, and collaborative with leaders and colleagues across the company to advance the common goal of supporting colleagues and stakeholders.

Before you communicate:

Seek support from critical stakeholders
Every company has its own philosophy and process for approaching these situations. Familiarize yourself with yours, and ensure your messaging is aligned with broader initiatives and approaches. We also encourage developing strong relationships with your human resources team, diversity, equity, and inclusion practitioners, executive sponsors, and other senior leaders. These folks can be your trusted allies, advisors, and resources, especially when handling difficult and sensitive topics. They can also help you to steer people towards valuable company resources such as employee assistance programs, leave policies, or other support.

Consider the author and the audience
Who should this message come from, and who is it meant for? These two questions seem simple, but are key to ensuring your message is effective. It may be appropriate for the communications to be signed by your group’s leadership team or executive sponsor; in other cases, you may want to encourage your company’s senior leadership to be the source. In addition to strategizing around who the message should come from, reflect on who will receive it, and how. What tone should the communications take? What method should it be distributed through? Who can employees reach out to with questions or concerns?

Reflect on the role your organization plays
Before crafting a statement, consider how this event impacts your company, employee community, and the key stakeholders you serve. Reflect on the following questions as you navigate what your approach will be:

In your communications:

Acknowledge the situation with objective empathy
We can all relate to the experience of being inundated with information from news sources, social media, and loved ones. It’s important that any communications produced by an employee community are fact-based rather than fear-based; the last thing we want to do is add to potential feelings of panic or pain. Acknowledge the event directly and empathetically – don’t use euphemisms or other language that may seem to downplay the impact, and avoid assuming or placing value judgments on how people might be reacting. It is important to remember that the perspective you or your leadership team holds may differ from some of your colleagues. Respect differing views, and remember that your employee community leadership team is representative of a broad range of experiences, priorities, and opinions.

Apply an intersectional lens
There are countless intersecting identities that influence your community members’ experiences and perspectives. As you’re drafting your communications, be thoughtful about the language you use. Could anyone who reads this feel excluded? Are there compounding implications for certain demographics? We recommend working collaboratively with a diverse team to gather insight and input – whether that’s other employee community groups, teammates from different functional teams and levels, or peers located in different geographic regions.

Offer meaningful calls to action
Once you’ve determined that you want to say something, ensure that it’s a meaningful response by centering the needs of those most impacted and offering various ways to engage. Potential calls to action can include:

Find more resources on building belonging at work here, and check out the first enterprise SaaS ecosystem for building belonging at work, Mindr Connect.