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Corporates Find Their Voice

In recent months I developed diversity fatigue. The topic which for me is frustratingly obvious in its necessity, had become weighted by jargon, buzzwords and an ever burgeoning industry which attempted to capitalise on its cause.

Apparently I’m not the only one. Googling ‘diversity fatigue’ illustrated the term is, according to the Economist, an actual thing. The task of reforming cultures to create work places and ultimately a society which work ethically and are sustainable, has brought with it the attempted upheaval of outdated views and tired modus operandi. This has created resistance, backlash and a healthy dose of inherent cynicism. Then came Trump-gate… and the world won’t ever be the same again.

Suddenly the catastrophe which diversity needed, emerged like a dragon fit for slaying. Breathing fire of belligerence with polarising heat as he trumped through our latent disposition, objectifying gender and reversing progress with talk of walls and homogenous office. The world awoke from its slumber. For the first time, corporate organisations are finding their voice. Stepping up and boldly stating their values through emotive statements a range of tweets and prime-time TV commercials.

As green card-holding employees were left stranded abroad, and the media reported on refugees from war zones being detained in American airports, tech giants Facebook, Lyft and Uber began to stir.

Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz committed to hiring 10,000 refugees and the most politicised Super Bowl commercials ever, saw brands show their position  – to a televised audience of over 100 million.

So is this a strategic marketing manoeuvre or a genuine paradigm shift toward business that cares? Most likely a blend of both, but whatever the phenomenon, it’s one we should embrace for it signals a recognition by big business that it has a responsibility to speak out. What’s more Consumers – particularly millennials who having grown up in the social media age of expressing their opinion publicly, favour leaders who do the same.

The trend for value driven corporate communication is not going away and should be embraced. For too long diversity has been an ethereal concept and quest for political correctness. What we are seeing now, is the danger to society that its antithesis presents. It is backward, separating and powered by fear.

So what are the considerations for corporates embracing the diversity agenda? A house in order. Businesses must be mindful of doing their utmost to be living the values they champion, authentically.

Communication within the company and to the board of a plan to publicly express strong opinion is imperative. A strategy to manage the amplified social media activity and reactions, both positive and negative, must be prepared.

There are always front runners and leaders who will edge from the start line before inspiring courage in the meek, and then there are those who will stay silent and play the safe game until pushed metaphorically out of the plane.

It is the corporate world’s choice whether they choose to jump, but a point for consideration -silence often speaks far louder than words.

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