International Women’s Day is a time when we collectively celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women around the world. It also can be a moment in time for organizations to highlight women and their achievements and roles in industry.
This year, March 8 will not only be celebrated by the United Nations with a focus on “Women in the Changing World of Work,” but it will be also be leveraged as a global “Day Without a Woman”—a one-day strike of women worldwide, giving the normal day of celebration a significantly more political tone.
All this puts a decidedly different lens on communicating support for women’s issues this year. Recognizing that every brand’s situation is unique, here are five tenets for communicating on the subject to keep in mind:
1. Put personal politics aside.
When dealing with large societal issues like this, it’s important to do a gut check to make sure personal politics are not influencing your actions. Review your mission, value statement and any purpose statements you and your organization may have. Immerse yourself in your employee communications and recent external statements, then consider the challenges you face and how to address them.
2. Analyze the Say-Do Gap.
The behaviors, culture and values of an organization should match the messaging coming from the top. When evaluating your communications strategy, anchor yourself in your organizational value proposition or mission statement to determine whether active engagement during International Women’s Day is a natural fit for your organization. It’s easy to get swept up in the momentum of a trending issue like this, but if doing so highlights any shortcomings, you run the risk of getting quickly called out for it—causing more harm to your organization’s reputation than good.
3. Make sure to use the right voice.
International Women’s Day doesn’t automatically mean you must have a female C-suite member speak on behalf of your organization. A diverse group of voices supporting a cause is always more powerful. Just be careful about who that spokesperson is and make sure that his or her connection to this issue is genuine.
4. Align internal and external communications.
Demonstrating leadership by showing how your organization is leading change from within is a compelling and genuine way to demonstrate support for women. It’s also the UN’s focus for International Women’s Day this year.
5. Remember: It’s fine to stand down.
If you do not have a genuine way to connect to International Women’s Day—don’t.
Jennifer Colpitts Ayers is a vice president and client director in Ketchum’s Washington, D.C., Public & Corporate Affairs practice and Ketchum Purpose leadership team. She is an award-winning corporate affairs integration specialist with expertise in the interplay of business, consumers, policy and corporate reputation. A version of this article originally appeared on the Ketchum blog.