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Supporting a social cause – Be authentic and consistent – Torchia Communications
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Supporting a social cause – Be authentic and consistent

Supporting a social cause – Be authentic and consistent

 

Whether through an official message from the President or messages of support posted on social media, many companies and organizations have recently chosen to take a stand against racism.

Considering the importance of the movement and the sense of unity driving the population, how can brands support a cause in a truly authentic and consistent way?

 

Take stock of the situation

The recent demonstrations happening in our neighbour to the south, were succeeded by those in Montreal and more generally across Quebec and show just how important this cause is to us. Racism and injustice have no place in our society and deserve to be exposed loudly and clearly and for as long as necessary. 

Timing is certainly important, but before investing in a social cause or a current event, it is essential to take stock of the situation and the issues.

How do we behave when it comes to diversity? If this value is not part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, to what extent can it be adhered to by staff and customers? Does the company have a history of supporting this cause? Does it have credibility in this area? What concrete policies and actions are already in place within the organization?

Any move must be carefully considered and reflect the values ​​of the organization. Rushing to action can backfire on you in different ways; it is better to take the time to completely analyze the situation before acting.

 

Be consistent with your previous actions and positions 

Your actions will have greater reach and increase your credibility if they are in harmony with and reflect your recent positions. Take for example Ben & Jerry’s, the famous Vermont ice cream producer, who was not afraid to speak up loudly about murder, police brutality and white supremacy … all in one tweet!

Having supported the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016, the company already had significant credibility on the issue and its message was very well received by the public. 

Conversely, the National Football League (NFL), criticized for many years for its lack of empathy for the cause (remember Colin Kaepernick taking a knee), loses all credibility by releasing an official statement on the subject.

Taking a stand is good, but combining your words with concrete actions, is better! 

Of course, posting a message of support for a cause is a noble gesture, but it can be seen by the public as just an act, often with good reason. A message has little weight if it is not accompanied by concrete and authentic actions. 

For example, take Baskin-Robbins Canada, another well-known ice cream producer. The company recently offered its employees a day off on June 15, inviting them to spend the day reflecting on the cause. It offered a list of movies, shows and books that could teach about racism and living better together to make the world a better place. 

This announcement was made in all humility directly to employees.  When the public eventually learns of it through social media and by word of mouth, this initiative will allow Baskin-Robbins Canada to position itself as a real ally of the cause. 

At Kellogg’s, the President and Chief Executive Officer invited employees to meet and offered them an opportunity to speak out. The company donated $1 million to the American civil rights defense organization, the NAACP, with which it had already associated in the past.

There are many other examples. When a brand is publicly associated with a movement or a cause, every action, and every word counts. Some will appreciate the association, some will not. By assessing the situation and taking these elements into account, your organization can make the appropriate decisions.

  

This article first appeared on Grenier aux nouvelles in June 12, 2020.