According to a global survey by Weber Shandwick, titled, "CEO Activism in 2018: The Tech Effect," shows that professionals in the tech industry strongly favour CEO activism. 7 countries, including India, USA, Canada, UK and China took part in the poll conducted by Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research.
On an average, 82 per cent of tech professionals have a favourable opinion of CEO activists and 81 per cent think CEOs have a responsibility to speak up about issues that are important to society. Interestingly, India far outweighs countries such as the USA in favouring CEO activism.
98% of tech professionals surveyed in India think that CEOs have a responsibility to speak up about issues that matter to society. This is far ahead of the approval rate for CEO activism in the USA, which stood at 69%.
Commenting on the overall trend of support for CEO activism, Andy Polansky, CEO, Weber Shandwick said that, "The new generation of technology professionals is a highly coveted group for companies in every market and every sector. Because of their highly specialized and advanced skill set, they are being hired in increasing numbers by employers of all sectors, not just traditional technology companies. Our study, a first of its kind among this select audience, provides further evidence that the momentum for CEO activism is not going away and CEOs are increasingly expected to take principled positions on societal issues among the next generation of skilled employees."
92% of tech professionals in India also want CEOs to speak out on their behalf when the values of the company are threatened.
Overall women tech professionals tended to be in greater support of CEO activism than their male counterparts.
Issues Indian professionals want CEO support on
For India, the issues that matter to tech professionals are mostly around work. They expect their CEO to speak about globalisation ( 92%), job skills training (88%), privacy and data protection ( 88%) and equal pay in the workplace ( 85%). While issues such as sexual harassment, LGBT rights and maternity leave did not figure in the top 3 issues for India, globally these were important issues that tech professionals wanted CEOs to have a voice on.
How to Leverage CEO activism to attract and retain Technology Professionals
As the CEO activism movement builds momentum, according to Weber companies have a rare opportunity to make an impact on tech professionals, who can be hard to attract and retain segment.
“Although this tech segment acknowledges the risk of CEOs speaking up, they expect their leaders to be public advocates when it comes to issues that impact people’s lives,” says Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist Leslie Gaines-Ross. “They also see CEOs who speak up as consciously building corporate reputation and doing what is right for society and the world.”
Based on ongoing findings from the series of research Weber Shandwick has conducted on CEO Activism over the past three years, Weber Shandwick recommends that CEOs and their companies consider the following guidelines to make the most of the CEO activism opportunity, whether they choose to speak out publicly or not:
Recognise the advantage of CEO activism when it comes to attracting and retaining technology employees. This select group of employees is highly enthusiastic about CEOs speaking out on today’s hotly debated issues. Notably, they express increased loyalty to an employer whose CEO is a public advocate.
Make company values crystal clear, both internally and externally. CEOs and companies are finding that they need to be accountable to their values. Technology employees are particularly values-driven, with nearly nine in 10 believing a CEO has a responsibility to defend the values of his or her organisation.
Don’t overlook women technology professionals. On every level, their positivity exceeds the already high regard for CEO activism held by their male peers. At a time when companies are looking to attract more women technologists, CEO activism may be an advantage to promote hiring activities.