What Roe v. Wade Teaches us About Employee Communication

When a draft leaked detailing the Supreme Court’s likely decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, it presented a conundrum for businesses. Should we speak out about this issue? If so, what should we say? What do our employees want? How will customers perceive this? Investors?

While an issue that no doubt provokes a range of visceral reactions, it also points to a fundamental question that businesses must now grapple with: What are the pros and cons of acting versus staying quiet? While it's an individual decision for each company, organizations with a strong set of values and clear-eyed purpose will find decision-making path more seamless.

This example carries significant implications for how brands, companies and organizations communicate with stakeholders. Yet, in this circumstance, communicating with employees and potential recruits is especially crucial. Consider:

Inaction implies apathy to employees. They expect more.

Understanding employees’ perspectives and how best to support them should be a major factor in how a company handles hot-button issues, especially Roe v. Wade.

A company’s actions do not always have to align with how employees feel on the topic, and it’s likely that not all employees will share the same perspective. Still, knowing where employees stand is essential to maintaining trust and authenticity.

Employees expect companies to act; and if a company wants to be an employer of choice, it must be bold in its convictions and not hesitate to communicate early and often on major issues. Inaction will not endear a brand to high-performing employees– especially younger generations, who expect their employer to be a voice of reason in chaotic and uncertain times.

There is a war for talent. Prospective employees must see brand authenticity.

Finding and keeping top talent in today’s environment is tough. The scope of what employees want from their companies has expanded. Compensation, a 401K and medical benefits are table stakes. Employees want to know what makes the company tick. How does it support its employees and how does it show it?

For the most part, prospective employees do their homework before applying for a position. When evaluating prospective employers, job seekers look at a company’s website, social media channels, executives on LinkedIn and profiles on Instagram, among others.

Naturally, prospective employees will ask: ‘Based on what I’ve seen, does this company’s values align with my own?’ Suppose companies show minimal activity and a lack of engagement on this topic. The effect of staying silent can, right or wrong, be perceived as indifference. And the last thing companies want to communicate to potential employees is apathy.

At the end of the day, whether speaking about Roe, mass shootings, or geopolitical conflicts, employees demand authenticity and trust. Companies demonstrating empathy and showing genuine commitment to understanding employees’ perspectives will reap the reward of retaining dynamic, high-performing employees.

Ted Birkhahn is co-founder and president of Hot Paper Lantern

[Editor's Note: The writer’s views do not necessarily reflect those of PRNEWS. We invite opposing essays from readers.]