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Sometimes, the decisions about pitching clients are clear-cut

Recent furor about new voting legislation has caused companies and organizations to choose sides on the issue. Major League Baseball moved the All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in the wake of Georgia legislation designed to restrict voting options. So, depending on how you feel about the voting rights issue, your prospecting process can have a new, clear-cut criterion.

It’s not an issue likely to fade away anytime soon. As the Washington Post reports: “More than 100 chief executives and corporate leaders gathered online Saturday to discuss taking new action to combat the controversial state voting bills being considered across the country, including the one recently signed into law in Georgia. Executives from major airlines, retailers and manufacturers — plus at least one NFL owner — talked about potential ways to show they opposed the legislation, including by halting donations to politicians who support the bills and even delaying investments in states that pass the restrictive measures, according to four people who were on the call, including one of the organizers, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale management professor.”

Company/organization stances on major issues such as voting can tell you much about an organization’s core values. It also can be deceiving. For example, a company opposing such voting rights legislation as that passed in Georgia may truly support diversity and all that comes with it. Or, it could be a purely politically correct move—designed to avoid alienating large groups of consumers.

So, it’s important to drill down deeper to assess what’s really behind positions taken on such seminal issues. Ask lots of questions, including: How does a voting rights legislation position stack up to a company or organization’s employee hiring practices? How is diversity represented in company programs, promotions and day-to-day activities? Is it clearly part of an organic way of running a business, or just window dressing used in commercials portraying people of all races, creeds and colors? What is the company’s historic position on related issues? And, how have those positions evolved over the years?

For example, Henry Ford himself has proven controversial. The Jewish News reports: “Rather than try and sweep Henry Ford’s virulent racism and antisemitism under the rug, it is time to confront that history head-on.”

A recent Detroit News article paints a different picture of the motor company’s stance today: “Leaders of more than three dozen major Michigan-based companies — including the Detroit Three automakers, mortgage lending giant Rocket Cos. and all four of Detroit’s professional sports teams — released a joint statement on Tuesday saying they are united on principles such as the right to vote, equitable access to the ballot, and the avoidance of any government actions that reduce participation in elections…The statement was signed by General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra, Ford Motor Co. CEO Jim Farley, Stellantis NV Head of Americas Mike Manley, executives from all four Detroit professional sports teams and the leaders of auto suppliers, banks and other businesses.”

A decades-old Crain’s Detroit Business report shows a history of diversity hiring, noting: “Ford was first company to hire blacks in large numbers… When Henry Ford died on April 7, 1947, mourners from all over the world, as many as 100,000 by some estimates, stood in a mile-long line outside Lovett Hall at Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village, where Ford lay in state. Of those in attendance, African-Americans represented a large percentage. They paid homage to the industrialist who hired them – along with women and physically disabled – when no other company would and who paid them the same wages as white men.”

So, it would seem that the Ford Motor Co. has a substantial history of inclusion, in contrast to at least part of the reputation of its founder. If you were looking to pitch the company, how would you interpret all this? If your idea of good customer service includes scoring high on a diversity hiring and philosophical scale, you may find a Ford-type company a good fit. Make choices in alignment with your personal views, and your odds of working effectively with a company or organization go up considerably.

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Looking for new business contracts? Consider courting companies that are customer service stars. If a company scores high on customer service, it follows that they may also be committed to providing a high-quality product or service, and treating all their stakeholders well. Stakeholders include suppliers/vendors, partners, and employees. It improves the odds of working with a top-flight company that will treat you fairly and respect your contribution.

Mark Lusky

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Mark Lusky
mark@marklusky.com

Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.

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