Use Your Outside Voice

Use Your Outside Voice

in·flu·ence noun \ˈin-ˌflü-ən(t)s, especially Southern in-ˈ\ : the power to change or affect someone or something : the power to cause changes without directly forcing them to happen : a person or thing that affects someone or something in an important way

If you were at the Contributions Academy Forum last week, you heard a lot about influence. If you are coming to The Conference in Nashville, and I hope you are, you will hear a lot more. In fact, Connie Dieken, a noted author and speaker on the topic of influential leadership, will give a keynote address on the topic.

You may be wondering why ACCP is so focused on influence. Here’s the deal – as a Corporate Responsibility professional, your opportunity to influence has never been greater than it is right now. And in looking ahead, my prediction is that your ability to influence will grow over the next decade.

If you are questioning that prediction, here’s the rationale.

Corporations are under intense scrutiny globally. In fact, the Corporate Perception Indicator, an extensive study conducted on behalf of CNBC and Burson-Marsteller, found that 55% of the public polled believe that corporations are not acting more responsibly in the wake of the Great Recession.

Millennials are expected to comprise 50% of the workforce by 2020. This is the largest generation in history and the impact this generation will have will dwarf even that of the baby boomers. As you’ve heard, Millennials also are the most socially conscience generation and they are making decisions about where to shop, where to work and what causes to support based on their values.

When you consider these to two factors together, the prediction I’ve made regarding the increasing role influence will play in effective social responsibility integration seems more like a foregone conclusion than it does speculation.

Corporations are rapidly realizing that corporate social responsibility has and will continue to impact their bottom line as more and more consumers are making decisions based their perception of a corporation’s good citizenship. Corporations have also recognized that employee engagement is key to attracting and retaining millennials.

So that brings us back to you.

If your parents were like mine, you were constantly reminded to “use your inside voice”. Some parents called it “your church voice”.  That was good and sage counsel when you were young and if you are parenting a child, chances are you find yourself offering that guidance just as your parents did.

Today, I am telling you to put that inside voice on the shelf – at least when it comes to your profession and find your outside voice. You have an opportunity to influence and now is the time to grasp it. You’ll be seeing a lot more in the coming months about just how to do that, but as always, your peers have great stories to share and counsel to offer. Please continue to think about and discuss how and when you use your outside voice.

By Mark Shamley, President & CEO, ACCP