Corporate Advocacy in a Time of Social Outrage.

Alison Taylor Article 230 x 260

By Alison Taylor

Recently I asked my MBA students whether they believed employers should be making public statements on the tragic events occurring in Israel and Gaza. One said he was “appalled” at the thought, but most took for granted that companies would speak out. Few even remember a time when companies avoided the political limelight.

Today’s employees are far more likely than those of generations past to raise alarms about what businesses are (or aren’t) doing about climate change, racism, political conflicts, abortion, or gun control. And efforts to hold their leaders accountable in the public square have led young staff members in particular to leak embarrassing internal information on social media — or directly to reporters.

The messy reality is that employee and corporate speech have intersected in uncontained ways that make internal organizational conflict inevitable. Relying on even the most seasoned communications team to craft a convincing story about your corporate responsibility efforts no longer suffices in this fast-moving, interconnected, image-dominated, “gotcha” era — not when voices from inside a company can quickly pierce its neat and glossy narrative. And as a broader, far less legalistic idea of “business ethics” emerges in the workplace, the traditional approach, which treats whistleblowing solely as a compliance mechanism, has become obsolete.

Read the full Harvard Business Review article.

Alison Taylor is a Clinical Associate Professor at NYU Stern.