In many of our client meetings, my colleagues and I are having conversations around mandatory vaccination. The discussions are not so much about whether we are vaccinated as a business (yes, we are btw). Rather, they’re conversations led by the businesses we represent – workshopping whether or not they should hold a position on vaccination as an entity.

In some cases, organisations are strident: yes, they are pro-vaccination and will be vaccinated as a business. In others, there is more concern about the risks that might arise by taking a position on something as contentious as mandatory vaccination. Whether that is because there is vaccine hesitancy within the business or because they’re worried about the impact of making their position known is unclear; one thing’s for sure – businesses are aware they probably need to do something around their vaccination expectations or status. If this is something that is weighing heavily on your meeting agenda, today’s blog will be a helpful one. Here are some pros and cons of making your position on mandatory vaccination as an organisation clear.

Against Taking a Position

The biggest risk you take as a business by making your position on vaccination known (mandatory or more generally) is that you will cop a pile on, online. We’ve all seen these, and they are nasty affairs. But take a step back; expressing any opinion has the potential for disagreement and piling on. Vaccination is more of a flash point, but the same logic still applies.

In my experience, if you’ve been an accountable corporate citizen and you’ve got a healthy online community, your referral partners and ‘fans’ will step in an bring their own viewpoint to the table if you’re being criticized en masse. It’s actually an opportunity to lean into that breach and trust in your community to support you. However: the fact still remains that you might find the potential of an online stoush too stressful to contemplate, and may wish to avoid taking a position for this reason.

Sometimes business owners will say they simply ‘don’t want to offend anyone’. This is a legitimate position, but one worth questioning the value of. Being everything to everyone is an impossibility – finding people (both clients and colleagues) who align with your values is a much swifter path to being happy in business and making people happy with your business.

For Taking a Position

Sometimes, not taking a position on a subject that your audience may expect you to can be a risk in and of itself. Depending on your business and its culture, presenting your position on mandatory vaccination/vaccination could be a great way to show your community focus, humanity and alignment to clients and colleagues.

By taking a position, you’re doing a kind of automatic self-sorting of potential clients and employees. If mandatory vaccination is important to you, you probably want to work for and with people who share that value. Wearing your values on your corporate sleeve can be a kind of special sauce. Sure; it means some people might not want to work with you. But the path of least resistance in business development can also be the best! There are some interest groups you may not wish to appease with neutral content, and that’s totally OK.

Whichever way you go, these are the core questions you need to ask yourselves:

  • Is this position broadly speaking rational and balanced?
  • Would our customers expect us to take this position?
  • Would opponents to our position be outliers in our community? Are they likely our key audience?
  • Do we feel confident in our position and able to defend it in a manner befitting our business?
  • What aligns with our business culture?

Iolanthe has made a short video about whether businesses should consider making their position on mandatory vaccination public on her LinkedIn. Follow Iolanthe here.