NEW YORK: Longtime corporate communications executive Bob Feldman is launching the "Dialogue Project," sending a letter to 400 chief communications officers asking them what their companies are doing to improve civil discourse.
"The whole idea is, on a global basis, to identify those initiatives that companies are undertaking and share them with others so we can encourage more companies to contribute," he explained.
Feldman is planning for research to be completed by the end of June 2020 and reported at the Page Annual Conference three months later.
In a speech delivered at this year’s Page Annual Conference in September, Feldman cited BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s 2018 letter to CEOs as inspiration for "mainstreaming" the idea that business must have their own purpose. He also referenced the Business Roundtable’s statement from August that said businesses’ purpose should go beyond just delivering shareholder value.
Feldman explained that businesses compel millions of people from different walks of life to work together everyday, and employees often have to undergo diversity and inclusion and unconscious bias training. That kind of environment can foster a more understanding culture, he added.
"Most efforts by companies are entirely focused on their impact on an organization, the corporation and the company’s various stakeholders," Feldman said. "I’m suggesting it’s not that big a leap that kind of training might [have] relevance outside the four walls of the company."
Feldman emphasized that business would not be the sole or central solution, but that it could play a key role in making society more civil.
The Dialogue Project is being conducted with help from the Center for Public Relations at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, the Institute for Public Relations and Feldman’s own company, ICF Next. The project is being supported by Google, HPE, Corteva, Chevron, Chick-fil-A, California Resources, Bristol-Myers Squibb, ICF Next and Page.