Is Corporate Activism Good for the Bottom Line?

Only a few, short years ago, all company communications had to run through one or two people. Organizations were silent about political or hot-bed items. If an employee talked out of turn, that was often a fireable offense.

Oh, how times have changed. Here are just a few corporate activism examples:

Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling assault weapons after Parkland.

Toms Shoes has a “buy a pair, give a pair” purpose after the owner witnessed shoeless, poor people in the streets of Brazil.

Wayfair employees protested after they found out the online retailer was selling items to our migrant detention centers.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo announced they are no longer financing the buildout of detention centers.

Walmart ceases to sell ammunition after two shootings in their stores.

8,000 Amazon employees signed a petition about concern regarding their employer’s emissions standards.

Nike ran a campaign with Colin Kaepernick, which isn’t the first time they took a controversial stand. Here is video summing up the Kaepernick effect and other positions they’ve taken over the last several years.

The tide is turning when it comes to corporate responsibility on difficult issues. The expectation by today’s employees is their organization will walk the talk on the problems they are passionate about – even if these actions make the C-Suite squirm a little.

“I think it’s not only good but fundamentally important that companies have a conscience,” stated Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer for Microsoft.

While most of today’s workforce is interested in this initiative, it’s Millennials that are extraordinarily prolific on this matter.

Survey Says Social Responsibility Abounds

Deloitte completed a survey of 2,000 C-suite executives and found –

  • 73% have changed or developed products or services that are more socially conscious
  • 46% stated initiatives that have substantial positive social change are necessary to grow their business
  • More than 33% ranked societal impact as the most crucial factor their organization uses to evaluate its annual performance

Punit Renjen, Deloitte’s Global CEO, stated, “This research finds executives and their companies are strongly committed to improving the world as they embrace industry 4.0.”

A study by Weber Shandwick and KRS Research found 40% of Americans believe it’s the CEOs duty to engage and speak out on hot-button issues and 38% of employees have criticized their employer’s actions (or non-actions) over societal issues.

“Employees are very tied to the values of the organization and have expectations about their companies,” stated Leslie Gaines-Ross of Weber Shandwick.

However, the action must be authentic in nature. Whether it’s related to the organization’s sourcing, manufacturing, process, customers, or employees there must be a direct tie of their words and actions to the business.

How Your Organization Can Get Started with Corporate Activism

Consider going to the “Brands Taking Stands” Conference next month. Here is a clip from last year’s event.

Understand as much as you’d like to control the narrative; you cannot with the integration and use of social media. However, it would help if you had an often visited electronic communications policy, which encompasses social media.

Listen to your employees and customers when they want you to take action. Remember, they can always take things into their own hands through social media posts, protests, and leaking information to the press.

Take action, even if it’s controversial. Employees want to know where you stand, and in these times of talent shortages, they are most likely to stay with companies that align with their values. And who knows – it may have a positive influence on your bank statement as well.

SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc. — Your Corporate Activism Specialists

We work with Human Resource Directors and their teams to educate and prepare them to become brands that take stands. Contact us at 330-255-1101 or 888-722-7937 for more information about ways we can help you!

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