As many of my friends and family can attest, I am not a sports fan! My lack of knowledge and interest is in fact shocking, given that I live in a state that has proclaimed public holidays to celebrate a horse race (Melbourne Cup Day) and a football game (AFL Grand Final). Though not my area of expertise, I do understand just how much influence the “stars” of the sporting world can wield.
Think of big names like Serena and Venus Williams, Michael Jordan, Cristiano Ronaldo or any number of Australian AFL footballers, cricketers or swimmers – sportspeople around the world have immense influence and power, not just over young people and fans. They have the power to sway public opinion and make or break companies and brands.
In parallel, over the last 6 months with labour shortages, the war for talent and the great resignation wave, there has been a shift in power within organisations. The power employees now hold has seen them use their voices and even their resignation letters to influence change.
After reading these two articles in the last week, the worlds of sports stars, big organisations and employees collided for me.
The first article was about Gina Rinehart, Netball Australia and the Diamonds Netball team. Indigenous squad member, Donnell Wallam, “expressed an objection to wearing a uniform with the Hancock logo on it.” Why? Because “in 1984 Lang Hancock, founder of Hancock Prospecting and father of Gina, suggested a plan that would kill off troublesome Indigenous people”.
The second article was about the Australian Test Captain and passionate environmentalist Pat Cummins. Cummins will no longer be seen in any advertisement for Cricket Australia sponsor, Alinta Energy, and it has also been announced that the sponsorship partnership between Cricket Australia and Alinta will not be renewed beyond 2023.
These two articles highlighted just how significantly values and reputation can impact an organisations success and attractiveness in the current climate.
So, what are the learnings for organisations from this?
- Your employer brand, your values and reputation are critical in the attraction and retention of your team (no matter how large an organisation, or how successful)
- Employees are voicing their opinions and values and will no longer just “follow the company line”. Employees have significant power in the current job market and will walk before compromising their own values.
- Social issues are becoming more important and are often “deal breakers” when it comes to the attraction of new team members (and the retention of existing ones). Policies and commitment to supporting causes such as the environment, equity and equality, diversity and inclusion, homelessness and so on all add to an organisation’s value proposition and employer brand.
- Employees want to know that they and the organisation are delivering more value to an organisation than only “shareholder return”. What good are we making in the world?
- Many organisations are doing incredible things to support charities and causes. Unfortunately, many are not effectively communicating or leveraging that support. If you are supporting specific causes, how are you making your current and future employees, suppliers, customers, and partners aware of your efforts?
Finally, and most importantly, listen to your employees, customers, and consumer sentiment. The tide is changing, and ignoring their voices can do catastrophic short- and long-term damage to your organisation’s reputation and bottom line.
What is your organisation doing to make a difference? Do your people know what you do?