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Lessons from the Ukraine War

Should brands speak out?

Finance industry contributor
TL Nguyen – vice president of marketing, InterLinc Mortgage

InterLinc Mortgage

With the Russian attack on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, millions around the world are witnessing the real-time diaspora of Ukrainians fleeing their country and experiencing a mixture of solemnity, grief and waning hope. Sadness not only causes us to pour our hearts out for Ukraine, it creates a reluctance in spending. with consumer spending falling alongside the Ukrainian invasion.

Many of us, companies and individuals alike, are all wondering – what can we do? The answer for financial service organisations is simple – messages of peace and empathy. As financial services providers, we’re more than just a company; we are major stakeholders of our clients’ wealth, home loans and financial freedom and play a key role in shaping our clients’ financial position. During times of turmoil, take a lesson from the COVID-19 playbook and communicate empathy. The payoff? Trust and confidence in your organisation.

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As of today, approximately 400 businesses have withdrawn their products and services from Russia. LyondellBasell, one of the world’s largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies, put out a message of sympathy in response to the war and has decided not to enter into any new business with Russian state-owned entities. Clorox, a household name, has joined the international call for peace by also ceasing operations in Russia. While many financial services professionals don’t offer tangibles such as LyondellBasell or Clorox, creating messages of unity and solidarity, such as the University of Washington has done creates compassion and security.

Once an organisation has decided they will join the hundreds of companies that openly speak out against Russia, there needs to be strategic consideration around what your message and focus will be. The American workplace is incredibly diverse and the last thing we want to do is potentially offend or alienate Russian-American associates or associates with family in Russia. Take a few key pointers from below to craft your company’s message.
1. State the company stance; take a position against Putin, not against Russians
2. Be careful to not offend associates
3. Most importantly, use empathy

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TL Nguyen
TL Nguyen has been a financial marketer for 10 years, specialising in strategic business development, copywriting and web development in residential mortgage marketing. She is a member of the 2020 Forbes Communications Council and vice president of marketing at InterLinc Mortgage in the United States.