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Companies are speaking out on social issues, here’s how and where to start

Companies are speaking out on social issues, here’s how and where to start

This blog is part of a series of blogs ‘Momentive’s continued dedication to DEI and social impact’ that centers around the principles of DEI and Social Impact, our learnings as a company, as well as the tools and templates to help you Ask, Listen and Act when it comes to DEI and Social Impact.  

It is no longer a question of whether companies should speak out on societal issues, it’s which ones, when, and how. According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, societal leadership is now a requirement. 60% of people will choose a place to work based on their beliefs and values, 60% of employees want their CEO to speak out on controversial issues they care about, and 80% expect CEOs to be a part of their company’s conversations around public policy and societal impact. At the same time, people believe businesses are not doing enough to address societal problems such as climate change, economic inequality, workforce re-skilling, and trustworthy information.

The challenge is that when these issues hit they are often personal, sensitive, controversial. A global company must think carefully and intentionally about the approach it takes. 

At Momentive, our vision is to raise the bar for human experiences by amplifying individual voices. We are proud to be a company that takes a vocal stance on important global issues. However, we don’t take a stance lightly. We’ve developed a system driven by stakeholder feedback to prioritize when and how to respond as issues arise. In 2021, we developed an external issues rubric, a scoring tool that is deployed within 24 hours of an issue breaking. The rubric identifies the events and issues most relevant to Momentive company values, customers, and the communities in which we operate.    

Recently, we made the rubric publicly available through our SurveyMonkey platform. The rubric is one of a few steps we believe companies can follow to make public responses quickly and confidently. These include:

ASK. Are your company values clearly defined and are there mechanisms that can help you identify priorities?

Values define how a company approaches its business and makes key decisions, and are a primary building block for company culture. They are an essential tool for approaching hard decisions such as when to speak out. For example, at Momentive diversity, equity, and inclusion is a core value and through our DEI strategy it is embedded in everything we do. 

Momentive Together, our social impact organization, is how we put our values into action and define our priorities for societal impact. Our advocacy and public policy strategy aligns with our vision, mission, and values and defines public issues of focus such as social equity and human rights, environment and climate change, and data privacy and security. These have led us to sending a joint letter to Congressional leaders to support immigration rights for DACA participants, advocating for voting rights, and our CEO speaking out on racial and social justice. 

LISTEN to a body of people that represent the diversity of views and perspectives across your business. 

When deciding what issues to speak out on, make sure you are asking and listening to a variety of voices, including those with opposing views. At Momentive, our rubric is informed by ongoing engagement with our employee resource groups (ERGs) and nonprofit partners that specialize in areas such as racial and social justice, environmental sustainability, and more. Our decision making committee is cross-functional including leaders across HR, legal, communications, investor relations, social impact, and DEI. 

ACT quickly, authentically, and thoughtfully. 

The rubric’s points system provides tiered scoring with recommended approaches based on those scores. At Momentive, we look at the level of communications, level of executive engagement, regional engagement, and whether we have a philanthropic response. While the actions you take must be adapted to your specific business, it’s important to do the thinking and have these tiers clearly defined upfront. 

When pressing issues hit, they hit hard and without warning. 

We’ve applied this rubric to quickly and effectively guide our response on gun control, social and racial equity, immigration, and more. And we’re testing emerging issues and adjusting our rubric as needed so when the time comes we’re prepared. Having a trusted and structured process we can count on means we can focus on what's most important, supporting and responding to our people and the people of our communities, continuing to help shape a better future.  

Try out our SurveyMonkey template here to get started.  

Visit the introduction to this blog series and our articles about the importance of DEI in talent integration and unlocking personal purpose at work through volunteering.