Every chief executive and business leader today knows the growing pressure on corporate management to take public stands on many social issues. Unfortunately, even when crises emerge that don’t seem to be political or controversial, actions that must be considered by both the public and private sectors to address the crisis inevitably lead to partisan debate. And this presents an extra layer of complexity for leaders as they seek to address the original crisis as well as navigate the politicization that evolves.
Case in point: a global health pandemic.
To that end, the Dialogue Project recently staged a crisis simulation exercise at the annual conference of the Page Society, the global association of chief corporate affairs officers. Using a hypothetical but highly realistic event, and with the participation of some of the world’s most admired leaders from business, government and journalism, the session explored how a multinational organization must manage a range of stakeholder demands as it confronts a crisis that combines a global public health issue with the politicization that unfortunately accompanies it.
Session participants included some of the world’s most admired leaders from business, government, and journalism. Specifically, panelists included:
Ronnie Chatterji, Ph. D. Mark Burgess & Lisa Benson-Burgess Distinguished Professor of Business and Public Policy, Duke University
Ed Dandridge, Former SVP & Chief Communications Officer, Boeing
Kate Gebo, Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations, United Airlines
Julie Gerberding MD, CEO, Foundation for National Institutes of Health and former Head, CDC
Michael Merson MD, Professor; Former Director, Duke Global Health Institute; Former official, World Health Organization
Kevin Riley, Editor-in-Chief of the Atlanta Journal Constitution
David Taylor, Senior Operating Adviser, Clayton Dubilier & Rice LLC, Immediate Past Chairman and CEO, Procter & Gamble
Deborah Telman, Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and General Counsel, Gilead Sciences
Two videos on this website provide all the detail. Choose from a five-minute highlight package at the top of this article or the full 90-minute session below. By viewing the full program, you will see how this group explored the social, political, ethical, reputational and public policy challenges today’s CEOs and all business leaders must confront.