Businesses are losing customers and shrugging off their ‘obligations’ to the community by shying away from making their views known on important social issues.
Sarah Thompson, director of specialist PR agency GoodFit Global that works with businesses contributing to “the wellbeing of people and the planet”, suggests that businesses not voicing their opinions on key social debates are pushing customers away to competitors that do stand up and make their views known.
“I don’t think that all businesses have to tick every box when it comes to sustainability, for example, but I do think they have a responsibility to try. If businesses don’t try, consumers will feel powerless and things may never change,” she says.
“I think that more businesses should be encouraged to consider their social and environmental impact. Because, let’s face it, no one is going to thrive in a future where the environment is destroyed, people are unable to work due to obesity or mental health problems, or because they are afraid to be judged because of their sexuality, religion or cultural background.”
Sarah adds: “I applaud any business that is brave enough to show its genuine support for a social issue, like Qantas and marriage equality.”
The comments come in response to the findings of a recent My Business poll where more than two-thirds of SME respondents (67.6 per cent) said they do not believe businesses should become involved in social debates.
One My Business reader, going by the name “Free Flight Emu”, has gone one step further, saying that businesses have not only a right but “an obligation” to take a position on social issues and communicate that with their customers and the wider community.
“Every choice has a social dimension, and businesses have not just a place, but an obligation to take a position,” the reader says.
“It is their choice how public they are about their choices, but just as they are free to choose, it is the choice of the consumer whether to buy from them or another service/supplier more aligned with their values.”
What are your thoughts? Have you received a boost in customers by taking a stand on issues that matter? Conversely, have you lost customers who disagreed with your stance? Share your thoughts below!
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.