CEO Monthly July 2017

4 CEO MONTHLY / JULY 2017 , Nearly one-half of Millennials (47%) believe CEOs have a responsibility to speak up about issues that are important to society, far outpacing the sentiments of Gen Xers and boomers (28% each). Millennial Demand for CEO Activism Surges An even larger six in 10 Millennials (56%) say that business leaders have a greater responsibility to speak out now than in years past. This is according to CEO Activism in 2017: High Noon in the C-Suite, a report commissioned by global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research. This study follows The Dawn of CEO Activism, among one of the first reports published in 2016 that identified the risks and rewards for companies when their chief executives speak out on hot- button issues. “Over the past 12 months, the climate in the United States has changed dramatically as business and policy have intersected more deeply than ever before,” said Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick. “When dozens of CEOs spoke up about the new administration’s decisions regarding issues like climate change and travel to the U.S. from select countries, for example, social media ignited, protests erupted and media attention exploded. Navigating how to communicate a company’s point of view in this environment is becoming increasingly complex and important. Future generations will only pay closer attention to how companies communicate around their values when it comes to deciding where to work or who to purchase from.” Millennials’ buying decisions increasingly influenced by CEO activism CEO activism positively affects Millennials’ purchase decisions, according to the survey. Half of Millennials (51%) say they would be more likely to buy from a company led by a CEO who speaks out on an issue they agree with. This rate has increased since 2016 (46%). This form of ‘voting by wallet’ is not to be ignored as companies fiercely compete for customers. By comparison, CEO activism is less likely to affect the purchase decisions of Gen Xers and boomers. Millennial employees most loyal to CEO activist bosses The war for talent is hyper- competitive and critical to successful performance. In deciding whether to speak out, it is imperative to consider the effect that CEO activism can have on attracting and retaining talent. More than four in 10 Millennials (44%) say they would be more loyal to their organisation if their own CEO took a public position on a hotly debated current issue. While there is some risk – 19% say, they would be less loyal if their CEO spoke out – loyalty outweighs disloyalty by more than twice as much. “Millennials, more than other generations, expect CEOs to champion their values,” said Micho Spring, global corporate practice chair of Weber Shandwick. “Their early schooling in social media has extended beyond their ability to influence social movements to impacting their workplace and its leadership.” For Gen Xers and boomers, the scales tip toward less loyalty. Only 16% of Gen Xers and 18% of boomers would be more loyal if their own CEO spoke out, while two in 10 of each generation (18% and 20%, respectively) would be less loyal. Before taking a stand on an issue, it is important to address the perspectives and concerns of this older segment of the workforce to better understand what would or would not shift them toward more positive perceptions of their companies. The risk of silence Weber Shandwick conducts ongoing CEO activism research to provide companies with