By: Mollye Rhea
Here we are, six months and 16 days into 2020, and it is a natural time to reflect on the plans we made for this year. I think it’s fair to say every business and nonprofit in America is navigating a new plan vs. the one identified in January 2020. On January 31, I was proud to be featured in David Hessekiel’s “Corporate Social Impact Predictions And Prognostications For 2020.” Little did I know then how timely my prediction below would appear with COVID-19 and how much it would be further accelerated by the movement demanding social justice.
“Invest in deeper integrations in partnership work. Consumers today, especially Gen Z and Millennials, want to see true connections and meaningful impact beyond one-time campaigns. Causes and companies will need to work harder than ever before to ensure cause efforts are ‘authentigrated’ by all partners and not at risk of being seen as cause-jacked promotional stunts. ‘Authentigration’ is a new term I’ve coined to represent the trend of consumers and employees demanding closer mission and brand alignment throughout a company’s purpose-driven activities.”
Alignment and Integration of Values Across an Entire Organization
In fact, a number of studies have already emerged regarding consumer opinion of corporate action in 2020. A report fielded in June, The Corporate Social Mind, gathered data from over 1,000 respondents affirming that the two most visible social issues of today, COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, are acting as strong forces in driving companies to define their role in advancing social change. According to the results, “the majority of consumers expect companies to take a stance on social issues. Right now, almost 60% of the public wants companies to give an opinion specifically on racial equity, social justice and anti-discrimination; almost half want the same for the environment/climate change.”
So how can companies take action in an authentigrated way?
Select Partners That Align with Your Purpose
Early in the days of protests following George Floyd’s death on May 25, there were news articles beginning to appear featuring positive corporate responses, but also raising concerns that few companies were prepared to share specific actions. And, some actions that were taken took a concerning twist from there. Many intending to support the Black Lives Matter Movement almost funneled money to an unaffiliated “Black Lives Matter Foundation.” At minimum, a step toward authentigrated purpose strategies includes a company taking action to insure that funds are, in fact, going to viable agencies who are responsibly stewarding dollars toward the intended mission impact.
Take Meaningful Action
When a commitment is made, make sure it is a meaningful one. If possible, integrate social math to demonstrate the impact that will be generated from the partnership. Leverage corporate investment of time and money and add on a consumer fundraising ask instead of conducting activations solely dependent on consumer asks. Consider a multi-year plan instead of a single promotion. Invest in tracking and reporting results over time. The Corporate Social Mind June study asked consumers, “what actions have you taken in the last three weeks because a company asked you to get involved in a social issue?”
These were the top 5 ways they reported consumers acted to support a social issue:
- Posted or shared content about an issue (25%)
- Started or significantly increased how I purchase local products and/or services (21%)
- Donated goods (20%)
- Made a charitable donation to a cause or organization (20%)
- Signed a petition being shared on social media (20%).
Engage All Your Stakeholders
Now more than ever before, consumers want to support companies that are investing in community and not just focusing on profits. And employees want to work for responsible companies. Our recent 2020 Social Impact Stats Compendium is chock full of data if you want to further educate yourself. So, for authentigrated partnership, be sure to factor in all your stakeholders – customers, employees, vendors and partners.