Leadership development and cultural intelligence are crucial to implementing successful communications strategies. The CEO of a company and its top leadership are an integral part of the commitment to change, especially in response to the current movement that demands action beyond rhetoric. A new narrative rooted in cultural understanding is key to a cohesive voice that transcends cultural intelligence and language expertise. These have been key factors in empowering our clients’ leadership to emulate an internal and external voice for their companies that authentically represents social responsibility, mobility and equity which leads to a trusted brand.
Comunicad’s research shows that while most organizations understand the demographics of their markets, it does not necessarily influence the selection and development of its leadership.
The social movement for justice and racial equity requires leaders to commit beyond traditional Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Leadership has the obligation to refresh their narrative and sync messages that add favorability and resonate not just among Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Indigenous, and LGBTQ, but with all Americans.
Social media influencers, journalists, and celebrities are asking where corporate brands stand, the public scrutinizes their words looking for empathy, direction and action for the good of the nation. A transformative narrative for the leadership of a brand must advocate for racial equity within their own corporate culture. Corporate leadership by default has the potential to shine the light on national unity in response to a political landscape that is divided as we head to a contentious presidential election.
Communication strategies start with credible, authentic and powerful words that shape a positive action plan. Research and cultural competence create the basis for a confident vocabulary that organically transforms companies by building awareness. Cultural language competence makes business sense when corporate leaders focus on legacy branding, with the courage to be on the right side of history and implement initiatives that create sustainable change.
For example, the #StopHateForProfit campaign, has prompted corporations like Ford Motor Company, Molson Coors Beverage Company, Verizon, PepsiCo, and so many more to pause social media advertisement, to address the spread of misinformation and racially insensitive messages promoted on their platforms. These boycotting campaigns hit social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter where it hurts the most by removing their advertising revenue.
As communicators, we shape brands and are stewards of linguistic guidelines that should be forceful yet sensitive and smart—a platform based on scientific models and metrics validating a narrative for social change that enhances a brand as a symbol of unity and trust during these unprecedented times. Linguistic discipline requires training.
Effective communications training:
- Empowers leaders with the right language
- Creates a pathway for change from inside the C-Suite
- Cascades the narrative to the entire organization
Communicating in a compelling way means respect for all Americans and knowledge of the nuances resonating with the diverse make-up of the nation. An investment in cultural research and training creates company stakeholders and brand ambassadors to amplify a national narrative of hope, social mobility, and freedom from racism. Employees want an employer that is an agent of change, and customers want to know they are supporting brands that are part of the solution to unify the nation. Companies must be committed to seize the momentum for social justice and distinguish themselves from others by ongoing analysis of an evolving landscape in order to keep up with effective messaging, followed by action plans that provide credibility to their message.
The public is keeping track and welcomes how Corporate America steps up to address racial inequality, but there is ground to make up: eight in ten (82%) say it’s very/somewhat important to them personally that companies work to truly make a positive difference on racial equality, but only (21%) say companies have made a very positive impact, according to a recent Harris Poll.
As you focus on a new narrative that is responsive to the movement for change, consider the following:
- Invest in an internal and critical review of how your current media narrative resonates with people.
- Review your present narrative to make sure you are using messages that don’t alienate any community across America. How does it measure to the new standards of racial equity?
- Your action plan must reflect empathy and be consistent with the spirit of your new language. Stay alert to the new terminology born out of the continued social unrest and adjust your narrative and strategy accordingly.
Language has power if backed by consistent and effective action that leads to change.
President and CEO, Comunicad LLC