Reputation Partners
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What We’re Reading – June 2022

Posted on June 29, 2022 by Paige Borgman
, Reputation Partners

What We’re Reading is a monthly roundup of current news, commentary, challenges and trends that impact our industry as well as those of our clients. From the business implications of SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade to Gen-Z employees feeling disconnected in the workplace to Netflix’s recent round of layoffs, here’s a look at the news that stood out to our team in June. 

CSR / ESG COMMUNICATIONS

Leaders and Allies, You Have Really Hard Work To Do – Michael C. Bush, CEO at Great Places to Work, LinkedIn

“Companies and leaders continue to struggle with how best to articulate their response and position on the overturning of Roe v Wade – including if it is appropriate for them to comment publicly at all. In all that uncertainty, I have come across few better and more succinct recommendations than this piece. The words speak for themselves: ‘Silence is not a good idea. At a minimum, you must acknowledge that something painful has happened for many people in your organization, especially individuals able to give birth. You must encourage respect. Ask people to pause before they speak. Ask people to not try to change others. You must show them how by modeling empathy, equality, and fairness.’ Powerful advice during an incredibly fraught time unlike any most leaders have faced.” – Andrew Moyer

P&G’s Marc Pritchard: ‘the industry has gone too far with purpose marketing’ – Jennifer Faull, The Drum

“In a recent speech, P&G’s chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard remarked that, especially in the current economic climate, finding a balance between operations and business growth and being a force for good is key. While he was more directly discussing advertising activities, as communications counselors, I think he brings up an interesting question at this time. How are we advising clients about their good works while also considering their business objectives? How are the DEI, community impact, ESG, etc. initiatives authentically aligned with the success of the business?” – Fran Fyten

Investors Balk at Tough Climate Proposals: 2022 Proxy Voting Roundup – Dieter Holger, The Wall Street Journal

“The desire for executives and/or companies to take a stand on hot-button issues seems to be further validated by the topics proposed by shareholders during the latest proxy season (i.e., racial justice, fossil fuels, etc.). While these proposals do not force companies to take action, it creates an opportunistic moment for companies to hear what issues of importance are being raised by their key stakeholders, and potentially decide to communicate their position and forward-looking action steps, if applicable.” – Brendan Griffith

EMPLOYEE COMMUNICATIONS

Space-X Fires At Least Five Employees Over Internal Letter Criticizing CEO Elon Musk Michael Sheetz, CNBC

“When employees feel emboldened or encouraged to speak out by their employer, the media, activist groups or society at large, it’s not a big leap to assume they can say or do anything and not face consequences. As Space-X’s likely lawful termination of these employees shows, that’s simply not true. The National Labor Relations Act outlines what constitutes Protected Concerted Activity, but that’s limited to raising issues about wages, benefits and working conditions. Nowhere in the Act or anywhere else does it say you can personally attack the company’s CEO. And the First Amendment doesn’t provide protections people think it does. Yes, you have the right to speak up – and the company also has the right to fire you if what you say or do runs afoul of their policies. In this era of heightened employee activism, companies would be well advised to make sure their handbooks and policy manuals have been reviewed, updated and communicated so employees are clear on what is and isn’t allowed. That will help avoid misunderstandings, unrest and avoidable terminations.” – Nick Kalm

Here are the companies that will cover travel expenses for employee abortions – Emma Goldberg, Lora Kelley and Emily Flitter, The New York Times

“In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, companies have announced policies to cover travel expenses for employee abortions. The Supreme Court decision strikes at the heart of one of the country’s most polarizing topics and applies significant pressure on company leaders to conduct complex crisis and reputation management calculus of how to, or not to, act. Companies must reflect on how a political stance aligns with its corporate values/mission, brand identity, workforce, customers/stakeholders and culture. Companies providing travel benefits for employees are doing so because it aligns with their identity or past behaviors engaging on political topics, with Patagonia a good example, and is illustrative of the ways in which corporations evolve their employee policies in parallel with politically charged events. However, only about 28 percent of American online adults agreed or strongly agreed that they would like their employer to issue a formal statement to employees about abortion, signifying such stances are not appropriate for most employers who don’t have a track record making such statements.” – Michael Grimm

Gen Z Employees Are Feeling Disconnected. Here’s How Employers Can Help. – Adam Smiley Poswolsky, Harvard Business Review

“As a fellow Gen Z-er, I value the importance of and truly thrive off human connection at work. I really like this article’s list of four commitments companies can make to support Gen-Z – especially putting mental health first. Now a non-taboo topic to talk about, there are plenty of opportunities for organizations to grow and enhance their recruitment and retention strategy. By focusing on DEI initiatives, offering professional development opportunities and taking part in the occasional happy hour, organizations can attract and engage not only young workers, but those across generations.” – Haley Hartmann

The Secret to Helping Employees Unlock Their Full Potential – Christine Lagorio-Chafkin, Inc.

“One key reason I recently joined the team at Reputation Partners is the leadership team’s openness to hearing and learning from employees to continue to make the company better. This philosophy enables team members to live up to their full potential. The way Strava co-founder and CEO Michael Horvath conducts meetings with his team members really struck a chord – letting your employees drive the discussion. This is a classic example of practicing what you preach and thus creating impactful opportunities for employees to be heard, learn and grow.” – Kate Grodsky

SOCIAL MEDIA & DIGITAL MARKETING

Meta Made Millions in Ads From Networks of Fake Accounts – Victoria Elliott, WIRED

“It is nearly impossible these days to tell truth vs fiction on the internet. The lines have blurred so far together that a simple Facebook post can cause complete uproar, whether factual or not. Over the last several years, advertisements on social media platforms containing deceiving and often false information have become increasingly more prevalent. Although companies like Meta are working harder to remove false content, like the article says, it is strategic transparency. Coming out on top to fight misinformation yet profiting off that misinformation on the back end.” – Steph Carlson

REPUTATION MANAGEMENT

Netflix lays off another 300 employees. – John Koblin, The New York Times

“It’s been another tough month for Netflix with the recent announcement of laying off 300 more employees – doubling the number of employees who were laid off in the previous month. A steep 70 percent drop in stock is raising eyebrows, particularly after the streaming pioneer lost 200K subscribers earlier this year and another two million projected by the end of the quarter. Netflix needs to define and execute a strategy addressing both its employees and external stakeholders, otherwise this pressing crisis will continue to impact the company’s market share and growth.” – Alex Engel

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