Over the last 18 months, social turmoil and political change has upended the role of the executive. We’re now in a brave new world where stakeholders are expecting companies to take stands and engage on complex social issues. Yet most executives—even armed with business school degrees and decades of experience—are ill-equipped for this new terrain.
In a study released this month by Porter Novelli, 95% of executives surveyed say the social, cultural and economic challenges of the last 18 months have made them more aware of how their role can impact society. Eighty-two percent say it is challenging to know if, when and how to address hot-button societal issues with 87% insisting they need more resources or counsel to navigate the societal issues they face today.
What these insights tell us are that the role of the executive has fundamentally changed.
Social issues, from climate change to racial justice to gender equality, are now bottom-line factors driving long-term business success. This work can no longer be delegated to someone else in an organization. Personal responsibility, and accountability, is key. For executives to lead sustainable and resilience organizations, they are going to need to act in new and uncomfortable ways.
The old CEO handbook is no longer enough.
For years I’ve worked with executives—from the corporate and nonprofit worlds—to become more social, connected, and more informed for internal and external audiences. In my experience, the most successful leaders right now are the ones embracing their role as platforms for good, and actively thinking of how to use the reach of their companies for social impact. They are leaning into influence, not visibility. Here’s how:
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