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Don’t Make It Personal, CEOs

February 18, 2020
By Diane Poelker

Consumers and stakeholders want to know organizations are doing more than turning out new and shiny products for sale.

It’s part of the new job description for CEOs — they must address the ways real-world issues and the seemingly endless cycle of disruption can create an opportunity to innovate with purpose and improve practices and performance when there’s risk.

According to FleishmanHillard’s latest Authenticity Gap study, three out of four consumers don’t care about a CEO’s personal beliefs but instead want the CEO to take a stand on issues that impact the company’s customers, products and services, and employees.

So, how can inclusion positively affect the talent gap? Where can the escalating climate crisis spur science for good? Can artificial intelligence and human ingenuity come together to ensure a better future for employees?

But don’t confuse a socially in-tune business strategy with business activism. CEOs might be inspired to lead by personal passion or a deep calling to create systemic change, but their common ground with consumers, customers, partners and employees is the societal value the organization can create, with or without today’s leadership team. To not only cut through but also authentically connect, the big picture values we all share should be front and center in the CEO story.

This can take a variety of shapes, depending on the CEO. She could play a visible – and vocal – role in advancing the company’s work, alone or with partners, to tackle an important issue. He might become a public face and voice for employees’ local volunteer efforts … or publically join with community leaders to promote solutions to any number of societal challenges. The key is to focus on issues connected to your business. That’s where you can make the most meaningful difference for both the company and the communities it serves.

Download FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap Report here.