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Employees Empowered: Harnessing Your Colleagues’ Passions into Action (Deep Dive 1)

October 3, 2023 @ 2:00 pm 3:00 pm

Employee demands for corporate public policy action are renewing the value of employee advocacy programs. Learn how to talk to impassioned employees and focus their energy, discover ways to recruit member-company employees into trade-association-led grassroots efforts, and discuss how PACs now fit into it all.


Zach Bernath, Home Depot
Brenna Callahan, Michael J. Fox Foundation
Lauren Gabel, American Society for Microbiology (moderator)
Elizabeth Parks, National Federation of Independent Business
Emma Will, National Alliance on Mental Illness

Notes

  • How do you keep employees focused on issue advocacy for the benefit of the company versus their personal opinions unrelated to the company?
    • Key Takeaways
      • Create avenues of personal advocacy. Educate employees on opportunities where they can benefit.
      • Mission first. Organization-wide awareness.
      • Set clear expectations at the beginning. 
      • Know when an advocate is not the right fit.
    • Personal Advocacy
      • Create avenues of personal advocacy and educate employees on opportunities to become involved in your organization’s issue advocacy.
      • Have a conversation with your colleagues and create organization-wide awareness about your organization’s key policy issues.
      • Set clear expectations about the role of advocacy and the PAC
        • For companies who do not directly engage your colleagues, grass tops and member companies can be a vital resource.
        • Not everyone is the right fit for advocacy, and that’s okay. Provide other avenues for engagement for engaged audience members who might not be ready to be an advocate.
      • Through advocacy, employees can get involved with organizations at the local level.
  • How do you reach employees if you are outside the company (e.g. trade associations)?
    • Key Takeaways
      • The more you learn about your members, the more you can tailor messaging that will resonate
      • Ladder of engagement with VIP treatment at the highest level.
      • De-mystify advocacy and policymaking with training
    • Create advocate tiers for successful engagement. For example:
      • Advocate Engagement 
        • Can share their personal stories, take action on advocacy alerts, etc
      • Field Leader Engagement
        • Provide ready-to-use templates and resources, help the organization hit certain targets, drive education opportunities, etc
    • Demystify advocacy for your audience.
      • Make sure advocates know their ask!
      • Advocacy 101 training materials are very popular across the various levels of advocate engagement
  • How do you get past the corporate gatekeepers (HR, legal, comms)?
    • Key Takeaways (Yes, and for working with other organizational departments):
      • Proactively build relationships
      • Prioritize communication and collaboration
      • View gatekeepers as resources and partners, not obstacles
      • Respect their processes or guidelines 
      • Don’t assign tactics
    • Corporate Gatekeepers
      • View the gatekeepers, especially the communications teams, as teammates in this long game.
      • Directly assigning tactics pigeonholes the conversation and campaign before it gets going. Zoom out and present the objective to your communications team, and work together to develop tactics that work for both parties.
      • Know the processes implemented by your organization’s departments and leverage them to your advantage.
      • Proactively build cross-departmental relationships. We all have the skill sets to bridge the gap between various departments, it is up to us to use them within our own teams.
        • Starting the conversation is better than not having it at all, and is important to making sure teams see the commonality and feel equal ownership of the project at hand.
        • Communicate with people at the times that you don’t need them, so it’s easier to connect with them during the times that we do.
      • Consider splitting the advocacy and general audiences on social media (with buy-in from the other team).
  • What is the role of your PAC (if you have one)?
    • Key Takeaways
      • Leverage your organization’s existing mission in the political arena
      • Connect employees to the political process for effective advocacy, relationship building, and political activity to optimize the government’s impact on our business.
    • Leveraging advocates
      • We are working on behalf of our advocates, not the other way around
      • Social proof goes a long way, enrolling high-level leaders to openly participate will trickle down and encourage other employees to also become involved
      • PAC comfort levels from advocates can be increased by giving agency to donors and advocates through party designation and PAC matching.
  • Questions/ Final thoughts:
    • How do you let people know certain advocates are not a good fit?
      • Never over-promise to advocates.
      • Make sure they work with their state organization.
      • Encourage them to keep the stories that might not be a good fit now in case they can be utilized later.
    • What the communications team wants you to know:
      • Advocacy teams should be looped into the rest of the organization’s work.
      • Use your communications team to your advantage.
    • How do I address pressure from employees to speak on issues not part of the organization’s mission?
      • Encourage advocates to find the appropriate avenues to advocate for the issues at hand.
      • Often, just holding the space to have the conversation is enough for employees to feel heard and talk it out.
      • Proactively bring up the conversation about what the issues are that the organization focuses on.
      • Make the distinction that “We are a good advocate on this issue, we are not equipped to be a good advocate for X issue.”

Details

Date:
October 3, 2023
Time:
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
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