July 26, 2022
This post was co-authored by Karin Bonev and Matt Barkett. Sara Diamond, our ESG Intern, gathered research and information for this blog post.
The Supreme Court of the United States has always been the final word on the law of the land. Laws are enacted and court challenges filed. These are decided by lower courts, appealed up the chain, and then in a few select instances, are judged against their constitutionality by the nation’s highest court. SCOTUS decisions can alter the course of major societal issues, perhaps never more so than following the decisions near the end of the court’s most recent term.
This newly appointed court with a conservative super majority has ruled on several cases that have had significant impact on public policy in very controversial and visible ways. What has not become clear in the immediate aftermath is how organizations can – or should – communicate the impact of these decisions to their employees, customers and investors when state and organizational policies continue to evolve.
Further complicating matters is the emotional nature of these issues, with great passion on either side. Gun control. Reproductive rights. Environmental impact. And what is yet to come in an already politically divided nation with mid-term elections racing toward us in November. None of us truly know but here are some things to consider in the near term.
Most organizations focus solely on how to make their business more profitable, operate better or serve customers more efficiently. Now these societal issues raised by the court’s actions have employees looking to their organizations for answers. Take the time to understand the practical impact of court decisions, responses by state governments and changes in the legal landscape. Each of these components can have repercussions on your organization’s human resource policies and even how you operate from state to state. Much has been written in recent days to get a clear overview of some of the ramifications on gun control, reproductive rights and environmental impact and interesting online resources have also popped up to help.
Making snap decisions, particularly from an emotional place, is a clear misstep. The legal, legislative and benefits landscape is undergoing a major upheaval. Preach understanding, compassion and concern at these developments but reinforce to your employees that changes in the way we do business will be in alignment with our culture – not political whim.
Emotion drives conversation, particularly when there are polarizing issues being discussed. Take the time to reconsider how you listen to employees, gather feedback and make it actionable as you consider policy changes. Employees necessarily must be part of that conversation and buy what management is selling or any changes are doomed to fail and, more importantly, employees will find other places to work at a time when no one can afford to lose good talent.
Successful organizations navigating these tumultuous times will be the ones that are flexible, thoughtful and able to understand what makes their culture be its most productive. Focus on those things and answers that inform effective communications to all audiences will come.
Want to talk about communications in a difficult time? Email Karin Bonev or Matt Barkett to set some time.