The surprising results of this year’s presidential election put many business leaders in a difficult position. How do you address the elephant in the room and potential impacts on the business while staying politically neutral?
This year’s emotionally-charged and often divisive presidential election has left Americans feeling exhausted, anxious, defensive and more. LinkedIn CEO, Jeff Weiner wrote that “polarization and open hostility was sustained for so long that people with opposing views became more caricature than actual human beings.”
This polarization can easily enter into the workplace, making groups of employees feel uncomfortable and unwanted. Business leaders cannot tolerate this behavior. It must be tackled head on through transparency and open lines of communication.
Here are the top four messages that we’ve seen CEOs share since the results of the presidential election were announced.
- Our business is prepared for change: A new president with very different ideological beliefs than the current president, under whom we’ve been doing business with for the past eight years, can leave employees uncertain about how their company and job could be affected. No one can predict the future, but business leaders should be able to share a high-level explanation of potential changes to their industry, how the business may be affected and what employees can prepare for.
- Our mission stays the same: With so much change and uncertainty happening in the world today, people are looking for something steady and reliable to hold on to. Work can be that familiar piece of the puzzle for many. Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook wrote to his employees, “While there is discussion today about uncertainties ahead, you can be confident that Apple’s North Star hasn’t changed.” Reiterate your company’s “North Star” to your employees and reassure them of what has not changed.
- We embrace diversity: This election has brought a deep divide in the country to the forefront, pitting people against each other and putting the focus on our differences rather than similarities. Business leaders know that this mindset does not create a productive workplace or an inclusive company culture. Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, wrote to his employees, “We’ll continue to build an insanely strong culture that reflects our diversity as an organization, and create an environment where everyone can thrive and be successful.”
- We will move forward: Everyone needs time to process the results of the election as well as what has transpired throughout the election cycle, but business leaders need to emphasize the importance of moving forward together. Nicole Sahin, CEO of Globalization Partners shared her thoughts with the Boston Business Journal saying, “OK – this happened. Now we need to come together and solve the country’s problems. We need to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”