August 2020 Newsletter

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August 2020 Newsletter

Corporate Activism - is your organization doing it right?

When companies take on a more activist stance on social issues, it becomes an important tool to
demonstrate organizational values and gain consumer loyalty. While businesses still prioritise profits, it is important for social causes to allow them to connect with their key customer base. Our newsletter, published in November, featured an article on purpose campaigns and brand awareness, a closely linked trend to corporate activism.

Corporate activism may, however, cause a gap between the consumer base and the business if the public perceives the activism as insincere. For example, companies supporting causes only when that cause is generally accepted (at the breaking point of public perception) or organizations that are widely known for being harmful or problematic yet engaging in activities to clean up its image (think greenwashing). Hence, we find an increasing number of corporations questioning if their activism is truly reflective of their values, particularly as the Millennial generation and Generation Z continues to form a larger part of their consumer and employee base. Millennials and Gen-Z are often described as expecting employers and organizations to be more socially conscious, easily recognizing when companies simply do the bare minimum to ‘tick the box’. Thus, it will be increasingly difficult for organizations to separate themselves from movements and causes going forward.

Recent global developments, such as the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the impact of COVID-19 provided opportunities for corporates to reassess their values and their message to the public. Brands such as Ben & Jerry’s have been largely hailed as successful case studies when talking about organizations calling out police brutality and racial issues. One of the features that set Ben & Jerry’s apart from many other businesses during the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter movement, in terms of public perception, was its demonstrated cognitive understanding of the issue. The subsequent messaging thus resonated with the movement, in contrast to organizations that were perceived to have done the bare-minimum or watered down approach (e.g. simply, solely posting a black square on Instagram to show solidarity).

While the intention to contribute in a meaningful manner may be there, organizational-values may not translate in their activism campaigns or messages, especially if corporate activism is a new space for that business.

There are many ways in which you can ensure that you have the sufficient tools to engage in
corporate activism correctly and respectfully, with support from your consumer base and wider
community. Some of these include:

NSI is dedicated to supporting and advising our members who are entering the corporate activism realm or in sustaining and enhancing existing efforts, including with the above mentioned methods. Please reach out to us at if your organization would benefit from a complimentary consultation.
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