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Give staff freedom to express values

When showing support for social causes, organisations are best served when they give their staff and customers the freedom to express it.

When organisations co-opt social causes they can be criticised for virtue signalling. The NBA for example is getting backlash from players and fans unhappy with its ‘league approved’ Black Lives Matter and social justice messages for players’ jerseys.

The organisation simultaneously wanted to be seen to support the BLM movement but eliminate risk. They wanted to embody the spirit of a social movement but control it.

It is easy to align with social values held and expressed by the establishment – the ways of doing so are already well set and trodden.

It is simply not possible for organisations to look genuine when they design articulation of a value which is very new, evolving and community-originating. They will not please everybody no matter how well-intentioned they are.

The solution is to open the channel to allow community expression to flow naturally. For example, it would have been far easier for the NBA to let players express their own support in their own way. If you worry about what the result of such staff or customer freedom might be, then we suggest you think again about whether to get involved at all.

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