Ruder Finn CEO: Act on Social Issues, ‘Don’t Just Talk About Change’

August 1, 2018, 8:21 PM UTC

You’re the CEO, a crisis hits, and your company is suddenly at the center of a national debate on racial discrimination. Do you take cover in your corner office as public outcry grows louder? Or do you respond quickly and take action?

Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of communications agency Ruder Finn, says CEOs must be quick to respond and not just talk about making a change. A good example, she says, is the quick decision of Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to close all stores for a day of sensitivity training following a racial bias incident at one of its stores.

“This is an excellent case of speaking out very rapidly,” Bloomgarden says. “A big problem is that people wait until they have all the facts. News doesn’t work that way anymore, especially when there are social channels.”

But CEOs can’t act alone; they need to win the support of all stakeholders. This includes employees and the board of directors, says Bloomgarden.

Watch the video above for more from Fortune’s interview with Bloomgarden.

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