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As a Business Owner, Should You Make Your Personal Beliefs Public? The good, the bad and the bottom line of community involvement.

By Gael O'Brien

This story appears in the June 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: Based on the backlash I've seen against business leaders who were open about their takes on social or other issues, I feel like as a company owner I have to keep my personal beliefs secret. That doesn't seem fair. What do you think?

A: A company's leaders are never truly off-duty. What you say and do, even after business hours, reflects on the company you lead. That's only fair; leaders derive much of their social standing and place in the community from their company roles.

If you take sides in a polarizing social or political issue that makes employees, customers or other stakeholders feel marginalized, disrespected or antagonized, it could have an impact on the business. That doesn't mean you should stay quiet, but you need to really think it through—and talk to stakeholders—before taking a public position on a controversial issue.

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