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The huge changes that swept across 2020 have affected every sector. As the corporate section head into a new year with the promise of vaccination around the corner, they hope to face a new normal. A normal in which customers and stakeholders are unsure of the current situation and what they can expect in the future. A normal in which though digitalizing workspaces has ensured that employees work remotely, it has also led to decreased socialisation and higher anxiety amongst the company’s workforces.  

To lead and foster trust in all stakeholders, it’s imperative for today’s CEOs and Chief Experience Officers (CXOs) to reshape the company’s message and build in processes for ethical communication.  Businesses and their management teams, including the CXOs, must ensure that they develop and have ethical communication practices in place, both internally and externally. Ethical communication, is a framework of communication principles that needs to align with an organization’s code of ethics. Honesty, openness, and transparency are its core principles. For it to be implemented, these values need to become the foundation of all the relationships the organization has with its employees, vendors, stakeholders and customers. 

Internally, an environment of transparency helps employees see what’s happening within the organisation and it allays their fears and also reinforces their trust in the leadership. Externally, the image of the company stands to gain if they communicate their ethics and let their customers know that they can be trusted, especially now.

Ethical communication, according to our assessment, is one of the most important trends for 2021. The European Communication Monitor Survey 2020 studied current practices as well as future developments and offered a detailed picture of the kind of ethical challenges faced by professionals at a micro and macro level. According to this study, a majority of communication professionals lack up-to-date resources to tackle new ethical challenges that have emerged in a digital age

CXOs and the leadership teams will urgently need to put these practices in place. This is helping to build a solid reputation and retain customers and clients. In 2021, customer loyalty will be the key to long term business success as consumers tend to make decisions based on whether the values of the organization align with their own. The company’s reputation and thereby its brand also stands to gain if the company makes ethical communication a priority. At a time when it is easy for customers to criticize the organization and step away from it based on a negative experience or management practices, ethical communication will help garner goodwill and prevent consumer attrition. 

Ethical communication will also be helpful to CXOs to develop a positive work environment where  employees can work together as a team and build strong relationships with their colleagues. A trust-based communication fosters  loyalty among its  employees, even in adverse situations – of which there might be some in the unknown future. Historically, companies who have acted ethically in matters of environment, gender equality and good leader behaviour are known to have a strong workforce who identify with the company behaviour as their own. Organisations that are honest about their values and ethics and bring that message to their employees will also be able to avoid legal situations which can cause long term damage to their reputation.

As with most important changes, ethical communication needs to come from top management and leadership to be credible and to hold value in the eyes of the clients, customers, employees and other customers and stakeholders. Going forward, this means that communication and ethics training must become an intrinsic part of the organization guidelines so that understanding and evaluating situations and acting ethically become the new normal.