For Executives, Business Means Taking an Interest in Policy
by Coco Brown, Athena Alliance Founder & CEO
The overturn of Roe v Wade is one of the most explosive, significant changes in policy in over a half-century. While it seemed sudden for many, it was a long-term play for the anti-abortion side — focusing on state legislatures, the federal judiciary, and ultimately the Supreme Court. Overnight, the abortion decision was returned to the states — and abortion became unavailable or greatly restricted in nearly half the US. The fight here is just beginning, but the impact will be far-reaching.
How did this happen? Are you aware of how policy affects your business? Are you feeling empowered to influence that policy?
While Athena is a community for women who want to enrich their executive education experience, it’s become clear to me through our partnership with Diplomatic Courier and interactions with our incredible members that every executive needs to also care about policy.
If you care about your business — how it’s run, the impact it has on the world, its future — then you must also care about policy. Because the two are deeply intertwined. While many tend to think of business and policy as distinct silos, getting involved in policy is crucial if executives want to change the way of the business world.
But getting involved doesn’t necessarily mean lobbying; it means influencing how people think and how policymakers are informed. Attitudes are shaped in society and influence legislative actions, which in turn impact business. And while local elections are often overlooked with low turnout, many, many policy changes are driven at local and state levels — and staying on the pulse is critical for leaders.
Policy drives business and consumer behavior
Policy drives change. Businesses will continue to do what they do until policy mandates a new course of action. Policy affects economic growth, interest rates, market expansion, taxes, entity creation, and so much more. It has the power to fundamentally shift business and consumer behavior, drive societal change, and affect the health of the entire economic ecosystem.
Be informed, be involved, be curious
Your response will differ depending on your perspective on the government’s role — whether it’s a positive view, whether you’d rather there be less regulation, whether you feel you’re in opposition or partnership with the government, etc. You may be more proactive to influence outcomes. Or you may strategically shift your business practices in anticipation of changes, even before they become official. But regardless of where you sit on this spectrum, it serves all leaders well to stay informed at a minimum.
Interacting with the government may seem exhausting and overwhelming. It may even be irritating — the government and stakeholders you need to influence may not understand your work or industry.
Many leaders don’t know where to start, and that’s okay. The important part is to just start; to be curious and to ask questions; to know that those around you in positions of influence are stepping stones to get closer to the individuals who you really need to influence and with whom you should converse.
You can start by recognizing that policy is shaped by those around you. There is never just one person involved; it takes countless people to shape a bill, to cultivate broader thinking. Be curious. Ask questions. Dig deeper into the changing current around you, who knows who. Become a player in a long string of influencers who are really influencing others. Press for change.
Women, it’s time to be involved in policy
For women, now is the time to get involved. Policy around you affects everything from how you raise your family (and what resources you have to do it with), to what you can and can’t do with your bodies, and what doors are opened for you versus the ones you have to knock down yourselves (think: the California Women on Boards mandate).
We are just starting to see the impact of one of the most far-reaching policy changes in a generation with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Rights women have taken for granted for 50 years have dramatically changed, overnight in some cases, and while it’s early, it is clear businesses are already reacting-offering travel benefits, financial help, even relocation. There will be much more to come over the coming months and years, and women need to understand how policy is enacted to have impact.
Change doesn’t just happen in one Athena Salon or in one interaction. It takes time to simmer. Don’t try to boil the ocean. Start by understanding that there’s power in curiosity, and that your voice matters. The future is being written this very moment through policy, and we’ll feel the effects for decades to come. Women’s voices must be included.
Get started with Athena
We hope you’ll join us at Athena as we tackle these important conversations. Our new Women & Policy Salon series led by mom-turned-maid-turned-mayor Heidi Harmon helps women leaders become changemakers in their homes, communities, and companies. We also tackle the pressing issues facing businesses and leaders every day, from taking a stand as a company on social issues to how the Ukraine crisis impacts the business world.
You can also leverage sources like Diplomatic Courier to stay informed. I’m thrilled that we are partnering with them on an entire series of events designed to invoke curiosity and confidence within women leaders.
The time is now. The conversations are happening now, in Athena and in the broader world. For me, it’s clear. I’ll be listening in and speaking up.
Originally published at https://athenaalliance.com on July 15, 2022.