The past week has been a character check for just about everyone on Earth. We write here about business communication, and that will be the focus of this blog, but before we get to that let’s get to this: No one is exempt from the moral obligation to at least voice some sort of support for the Jewish people at a time like this. Not everyone has the opportunity to back it up with action, but the individual experience of so many Jews makes it clear: It matters when people speak up to support them. And it hurts when people don’t.
We are not big on Facebook activism because it’s often just virtue-signaling by the people making the grand pronouncements. That’s not the case here. Everyone who speaks up for the Jewish people does something that matters.
Having said that, let’s consider the position of corporate communicators in the face of such evil. We’re all used to major corporations making safe, banal statements designed to show you their company values are, to put it bluntly, whatever the culture wants them to be. We won’t go through a litany of popular causes, but you can usually guess the corporate template pretty closely: “At Very Big Corporation, we want you to know that our corporate values align with (whatever), and we prioritize all necessary ways to promote and support (whatever) as part of our commitment to (whatever).”
It’s safe. It checks a seemingly necessary box. And it won’t do here.
The slaughter of innocents by Hamas on October 7 requires any company that wants to make a statement to either take it seriously or just stay quiet. There are no two sides to consider. There is no context that matters. This is not a “tragedy,” nor is it the work of “militants.” This is pure, unadulterated evil, perpetrated against a particular group of people – a group that has faced it many times before throughout history – for no motivation other than murderous hatred.
We believe in the power of prayer, so we’re not here to malign those who offer “thoughts and prayers” (although we definitely value the prayers more highly than the thoughts). This situation needs prayer. A ton of it. Whatever the New York Daily News might think, only God can fix this.
But to the extent that phrase or any other is offered as a mere platitude, corporate communicators, save it. When wickedness this intense has been committed, it’s grotesque to issue an obligatory but utterly meaningless corporate statement that tries to sound all the right sentiments without taking sides or ticking anyone off.
Corporations have two choices: Speak the real hard truth about this, or just keep quiet and let others do it. We’d suggest a statement something along these lines.
“We unequivocally support the people of Israel and Jewish people across the world in light of the horrific evil perpetrated against them by Hamas on October 7. There is no excusing, minimizing or contextualizing the brutal acts that were committed in Israel. We are looking at our own practices and policies to ensure that, as much as possible, our actions are consistent with the support and friendship Israel and the Jewish people need at all times, but especially now. We are praying for their well-being, and we encourage everyone to be of the same mind.”
There. If you want to co-opt it, consider it a freebie. You don’t even have to give us credit.
Just say what should be said in a moment like this – or say nothing at all.