Words Matter: Crafting authentic public statements in response to social issues

“Congrats Adidas on losing 163 lbs!!!” read the tweet sent by WeightWatchers after the Adidas dropped Kanye West following his antisemetic outburst last month. Not sent via press release, not as a statement from the CEO, but nevertheless an authentic public statement in opposition to antisemitism crafted for a unique platform and communicated directly to Twitterverse stakeholders. 

A succinct tweet will not suffice for most social issues companies must take a stand on. Words matter and platforms matter when companies address racial equity, diversity and inclusion and reproductive justice. However, just the fact that a weight loss company made a public statement about antisemitism and its rise is emblematic of the time in which we live: where businesses cannot afford to stay silent on what they believe in. 

Recently, Cori Streetman and I guided CSR, ESG and Communications professionals through best practices for determining when and how companies should deliver public statements on issues of racism, climate justices, abortion, violence and more at the ACCP annual conference. We also summarized our thinking in an article published by ColoradoBiz.

I’d also like to take a moment and call out one of the best statements we’ve seen. Following the murder of George Floyd and the social unrest that followed, Delta Dental of Colorado took time to review at their commitments and shortcomings, listened to employees, and built a plan to move forward – all before taking to the web. Delta Dental of Colorado’s 2020 Equity Timeline is clear, specific, acknowledges their past shortcomings and outlines the shifts they will make moving forward. We can all learn from their example.

Communicating authentically in the face of social issues is challenging, but it’s not impossible. We would love to talk more with any company interested in strengthening their response plan.

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