The events of the past year may have slowed down daily life for many but they but also sharpened our focus as we collectively witnessed or experienced loss, racial injustice, polarization and uncertainty. With the world’s challenges laid bare, customers and employees have found renewed purpose and empowerment in holding society accountable for how they will help shape a better world. More are speaking out on social media, forcing transparency, voting with their dollars and demanding accountability.
But while businesses like retailers play a key role in our everyday experiences, many corporate leaders questioned the appropriate role for companies or felt poorly equipped to weigh in on complicated or diverging topics. However, silence can also be loud, and increasingly companies may find if they do not speak up around issues in moments of urgency, others may take the liberty of filling in the blanks and assuming the worst.
Conversations with leading retailers who have found their voice around key ESG issues reveal they often do so by having hard conversations, using their company purpose to guide them to where they can be most impactful. These companies know that in a world where silence is a statement, setting goals and taking a stand speaks volumes to customers, employees and investors choosing where to shop, work and invest.
As the dust begins to settle after a year scarred by uncertainty, customers, employees and investors will continue to push for action, but even among many and competing expectations, retailers who stay grounded in purpose will be able to find or build their path.
We explore this imperative for retailers to take a stand, informed by insights from leading retail CEOs, in our recent research report developed with knowledge partner McKinsey & Company, Retail Speaks. To learn more, download a copy of the report here.
For more information about the retail industry’s approach to ESG and RILA’s executive communities exploring these topics, please reach out to RILA Vice President of CSR Erin Hiatt.
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