Consider this scenario…
You are a business owner stuck in the middle of a pandemic, struggling to grasp the changes in guidelines, and local and state regulations. You are trying to ensure the safety of you, your employees, and your customers. And you are doing this all while paying your bills, operating below capacity (and revenue), and doing whatever you can to keep your business- and possibly family – from going under.
However, the community is important. You value the community you built and the community in which you serve. So in an effort to keep the community going, you decide to give back. You launch a campaign to donate a portion of your sales to a local organization whose mission aligns with your business values.
You launch the campaign and feel good about the impact you and your community are about to make…because even amidst the uncertainty, you know that being kind is something that is always certain and that it is always a good way to operate.
And then it happens.
You receive an email calling you out. The customer questions your association with the non-profit organization receiving the percentage of your sales. Apparently, this organization, which is protecting one group of people, may not be protecting another.
So you pivot. You move quickly to mitigate any fallout. Then you announce another organization you want to support and give your community a chance to help.
And then it happens again. Another email from another customer that points out a reason why they are no longer your customer since you believe in every value in which the second organization believes.
Now, your goodwill campaign is controversial. Your business is at the center and customers divide on supporting and boycotting.
In hindsight, you realize that this could have been prevented if you didn’t try to do something good. Read that again, this fallout could have been prevented if you didn’t try to do something good and give back to your community.
How twisted is that?
This scenario is all too familiar for many organizations that experienced a split of customer opinions about who or what their business should support. While there are some clear “guidelines” on what you may want to get involved in or avoid, the lines today are so blurred that it feels like no matter what you do, you are on the verge of offending someone who is about to turn it into a big deal.
This is why many companies are opting for silence. They are opting to stay silent as a method of censorship and to remain neutral.
Right now, many businesses literally cannot afford to lose customers and need to keep all the customers they can. So instead of using their platform to speak up and incite change, they are staying silent and floating along without trying to cause an unnecessary controversy that can derail their efforts to simply keep the doors open.
How sad, right? How sad is wasting your platform in fear of being lambasted? It’s disappointing that companies, organizations, and people are suffering because they are worried about making the left hand happy and the right hand angry (and vice-versa).
How did we get to the point in our society that we are censoring what we say and do because we know that speaking from our hearts could easily be misconstrued into supporting something we are trying to fight against? And how do we get out of this trend of censorship for sensitivity?
One thing we must all remember is that we can only make an impact when we are a part of the conversation. Once we become silent, we lose our voice and have no chance of making an impact or helping others learn from another perspective.
What Should We Do?
When we push others out who don’t agree with us, we effectively push them into censorship and then the conversation ends. The point where the conversation ends is the same point where our growth ends and our forward movement is halted.
When we can’t move forward – when we can’t grow, teach, or move, we stop learning. And the end of learning will be the demise of our society.
We must turn this around…