Survey: One in Ten Companies Publicly Responded to Supreme Court Ruling on Reproductive Rights – tntribune.comRelationship
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New York, July 19, 2022…As companies face increasing pressure to take stands on a variety of social and political issues, a new survey finds that only 10 percent of companies are responding publicly to the recent Supreme Court decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, on women’s reproductive rights. And only 4 percent are publicly addressing the decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, on gun regulation.
But, The Conference Board survey reveals that a majority have either addressed or plan to address the decision on women’s reproductive rights internally. Significantly fewer, however, are internally addressing the ruling on gun regulation. That may be due in part to the pressure companies are receiving: 26 percent of companies stated they have felt pressure to respond to the Dobbs ruling, and 13 percent felt pressure to respond to both decisions, but no firms stated that they had felt pressure to respond only to the Bruen decision.
“Companies should have a clear process and criteria for deciding whether, when, and how to respond to social issues,” said Paul Washington, Executive Director of The Conference Board ESG Center. “The pressure to address these and other social issues is unlikely to abate. Having clear guidelines can help set expectations for how the company will respond in the future and ensure that the company is appropriately taking into account the divergent views of multiple stakeholders.”
The survey polled nearly 300 US public, private, and nonprofit corporations, more than half with annual revenues over $1 billion (60 percent), from June 30-July 8. Respondents weighed in on how companies are responding to social issues, including those raised by two recent rulings: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on women’s reproductive rights, and New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen on gun regulation.
Key findings include:
Even when companies do not speak up publicly, they may address issues internally based on the nature of the subject.
“These issues are amongst the hardest to tackle for those in Corporate Communications, both internally and externally. There is no right answer to what to say or what to do, but there is a right approach. This is based on a company’s values, commitments to all its stakeholders, and its business. They should think deeply, act wisely, and stay connected to what other companies are doing,” said Ivan Pollard, Leader of The Conference Board Marketing & Communications Center.
Similar types of events can lead to widely divergent responses.
Companies need to ensure they have a consistent way to respond to employee pressure on social issues.
“Employees are not only a primary source of pressure for companies to take stands, but also a primary audience for the corporate response,” said Rebecca Ray, Ph.D., Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board. “Companies should consider establishing a mechanism for employees to raise issues and should have consistent criteria and a process for management to decide whether and how to address those issues. For example, some firms have asked employee resource groups to provide regular input to the CEO; others have established a separate employee committee to raise issues for senior management and board consideration.”
The criteria for deciding whether to address a social issue should include more than “company values.”
Senior management can take steps to avoid becoming an “echo chamber” in deciding the company’s position on social issues.
“Americans’ trust in business leadership unavoidably places CEOs and their C-suites at the nexus of public policy issues,” said Dr. Lori Esposito Murray, President of the Committee for Economic Development, the public policy center of The Conference Board (CED). “Managing the growing expectations of multiple stakeholders will require new and evolving leadership skills, and consequently, broad engagement in the pursuit of knowledge and insights both inside and outside the company walls.”
Companies need to prepare for ongoing pressure to address the issues of reproductive rights and gun safety through internal policies, political activities, and nonprofit contributions related to these issues.