10 Jul Executives Supporting #BlackLivesMatter Part 2
In part one of “Executives Supporting #BlackLivesMatter,” we discussed executives that openly and actively voiced their opinions in the fight against systemic racism. While using their personal social media platform is an essential part of the process in communicating change, leaders also need to take this a step further. Tangible action, both within and outside the workplace, is imperative in the fight to dismantle structures of anti-Black racism. This week, we look at examples of entrepreneurial leadership on social media.
Decisions executives and their company makes in regards to taking action should be relayed to customers and their social media followers in an appropriate timeframe. This will assure them of the progress being made while ensuring the company’s commitment to action. Here are some examples of executives who are showcasing entrepreneurial leadership by being specific with their action and simultaneously using their personal social media platforms to reinforce the process.
Executives Sharing Company Decisions that Address Systemic Racism
Alexis Ohanian, co-Founder of Reddit
On June 5, 2020, the co-founder and executive chairman of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, resigned from the company’s board. After being on the board for fifteen years, Ohanian announced that it was a “long overdue” move, noting his departure was intended to make way for more Black executives in leadership positions. Ohanian pledged his seat on the otherwise all-white executive board to a Black candidate, Michael Seibel, who is now the first Black board member of the company. He hopes this move will encourage the company to continue to diversify its board.
Of course, stepping down is not necessarily feasible for all executives. However, Ohanian’s move is an example of how leaders can create a domino effect by pushing for further inclusivity and awareness of anti-Black racism, particularly within companies and corporations. In general, he utilizes Twitter to share both his personal thoughts and company announcements. After making the announcement, Ohanian then shared his thoughts in a long Twitter thread. By communicating through his personal social media account, Ohanian took ownership of his decision and made it more personal. Not only does this help to maintain a strong online presence exemplifying positive entrepreneurial leadership, but this also reaches a larger audience (Ohanian has over 336,000 followers on Twitter). The full thread outlining his decision to step down is shown below.
I co-founded @reddit 15 years ago to help people find community and a sense of belonging.⁰
It is long overdue to do the right thing. I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country.
— Alexis Ohanian Sr. 🚀 (@alexisohanian) June 5, 2020
Executives who share personal or company decisions on social media can manage their company’s reputation and their own reputation firsthand since social media is a direct way to connect to their audience. They can quickly disseminate information regarding brand announcements and position themselves as reliable primary sources.
As a high-profile leader, Ohanian’s decision encourages executives to think critically about how they can make necessary changes in the way of diversification and equality in the workplace. By posting the thread on social media, he also opened up the subject to public discussion, enabling users to react and leave comments. Ohanian’s announcement has been perceived as mostly positive by social media users as he is being lauded as an authentic ally who is making way for real change. However, some users have critiqued that further efforts need to be made by Reddit executives to tackle the rhetoric of hate, violence, and bigotry that are found on some Reddit forums. Executives should keep in mind that social media is an ideal platform for receiving unfiltered critiques and input from customers and followers, allowing them and their company to identify and address concerns.
Ramon Laguarta, CEO of PepsiCo
Ramon Laguarta, the CEO of PepsiCo, recently published an open letter on Fortune thoroughly outlining how his company will be addressing the issue of diversity. He shared this same letter on his LinkedIn account, entitled “PepsiCo’s Journey For Racial Equality.” Laguarta has previously used his LinkedIn article section to post a response to the George Floyd murder, highlighting PepsiCo’s avowal to fight against systemic racism.
In the letter, some of the actionable items listed include PepsiCo expanding its Black managerial population by 30% by 2025, adding a minimum of 100 Black associates to its executive ranks, and accelerating recruitment efforts with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Laguarta’s actions on social media have been largely commended and were met with positive feedback. Some LinkedIn users noted that his actions contribute to a more positive representation of the PepsiCo brand and that these actions are positive contributions. However, other users have noted that while this is a good first step, they questioned what lies in the future, emphasizing the importance of following through on these actions.
Part of maintaining effective entrepreneurial leadership through social media is the ability to be transparent. As mentioned earlier, executives should ensure that they are reading comments made by other users on their posts as this will help provide a better understanding of customer criticisms and concerns. Executives should also continue to use social media to document changes being implemented at their company as simply sharing initial announcements but nothing else may come across as performative and shallow. This will help keep customers and followers informed, thus allowing them to place more trust in executives and their brand.
Our Entrepreneurial Leadership Tips for Executives
Twitter is an effective platform for posting short and engaging copy to catch the attention of a user. In cases where executives need to post longer copy, they can either make use of threads (multi-tweets), or link to a longer article for users to read more in-depth information. LinkedIn has the option to publish articles on the platform itself, which is effective for writing long-form blog posts that can then be highlighted in a shorter social media post.
Executives should also consider that a timely response is important. Audiences are growing increasingly aware of how quickly leaders and brands are responding to crises and waiting too long may reflect poorly on both the executive and the company. Those who share information on their social media can post news and thoughts in a timely manner, which will help foster positive reputation management.
By using social media as a tool to enforce social change and spread important announcements and messages, this can help executives establish themselves as trustworthy and relevant leaders.
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