This is an article “Are ‘Woke’ Entrepreneurs Making More Right Now?” by Marc Primo
COVID-19 did a lot to stall businesses from performing the usual physical social corporate responsibility (CSR) programs that would benefit many, but it did not stop them from trying. In these times when a pandemic is claiming lives and upending more through economic downturns, people are looking for companies who can shine a light for employees and communities everywhere.
CSR programs continue to be a big thing for companies as 42% of North American shoppers say that they go for brands that have a genuine and transparent commitment to social and environmental issues. This shows that being a ‘woke’ company has its own return on investment. This year, more brands have joined the resolve to reduce their carbon footprints, initiate eco-campaigns that deliver significant results, and take a stand on social injustices, even if it meant being at the center of the current heated state of politics.
Here are three reasons why these ‘woke’ entrepreneurs are making more profits right now:
Social equity is a hot topic
As we hear news of racial injustices let in right in today’s America, the issue of diversity, inclusivity, and equity has never been louder than ever before. In the aftermath of the tragic events that took the life of George Floyd and prompted Black Lives Matter protests across the nation, prominent brands including Airbnb, Etsy, DoorDash, Walmart and a string of others emphasized their support both on and offline.
Companies that know the importance of being committed to fighting racial injustices and uplifting the lives of ethnic minorities have aimed to raise great awareness among their customers and followers. Soon, more big name companies have increased their budgets for philanthropic campaigns that give employment to these minorities and female-owned businesses, while helping out vulnerable communities this year. All these as the new administration re-echoes the call for companies and investors to promote inclusivity and equity with their brands.
One such statement was made by sports giant Nike when it put out an ad that featured NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The athlete found himself unsigned after taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. The ad went on to encourage consumers to ‘believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything’ which gives us the perfect example. While Nike took the risky route by meddling in today’s race wars, the ad blew up on social media and earned Nike over $6 billion in ROI not to mention an Emmy award. Of course, it still remains that such a bold marketing move could only work if the brand is genuine and transparent about their commitment as it is important for consumers that brands ‘walk the talk’.
Empowering the people creates better brand awareness
For decades, big companies have been establishing foundations that donate charity to the underprivileged. The dark year of 2020 however pushed the envelope in global charity as more private entities worldwide are strongly encouraging their employees to find ways they can help whether in cash, kind, or through volunteerism.
At the onset of the pandemic, brands such as 3M donated financial support amounting to $20 million to frontline healthcare workers who were the most at-risk professionals in the country. Convenience store chain 7-Eleven posted job openings for 20,000 positions at its stores to address both sanitation and infection protocols and the overwhelming unemployment rates in the country. Fortunately, 3M and 7-Eleven were joined by more than a hundred more companies who did their share to provide those who are in need during the health crisis
Corporate Volunteer programs have also come out of the woodwork to tackle a range of hot topic issues that range from environmental management to social injustices. CSR activities that benefit communities, the environment, and employees have taken a stronghold on modern business particularly when COVID-19 broke out.
Digital app Alaya serves as a platform to help companies establish their CSR programs and target issues at scale. It successfully integrated human connections with the power of digital to do good work that can be measured through actions. This year, more companies are reducing their carbon footprint by encouraging their employees to use bikes instead of cars to work, conserve energy consumption in the office, and adapt to in-house wellness programs through the app.
Extending help to MSMEs have huge returns
Micro-small-medium enterprises were the most hit when COVID-19 struck the global economy with huge blows. This prompted non-profit organizations to seek help from more established companies so that businesses can stay afloat despite all the lockdown and shelter in place protocols.
One good example of businesses supporting businesses is how American Express and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation established the Coalition to Back Black Businesses. The program allowed black-owned brick-and-mortar shops and businesses to get financial assistance and stay afloat during the pandemic. The coalition applies multi-year grantmaking and training programs that opens up opportunities for capital access, become more competitive, and give more businesses across industries a fighting chance during one of history’s greatest economic recessions.
Aside from helping out MSMEs in need, the coalition also focuses its spotlight on helping achieve further growth for black female-owned businesses, shattering the gender issue on equal pay, providing tools and expert advice to smaller businesses who previously didn’t have access to such opportunities.
Many happy returns
More companies are now learning how CSR campaigns not only benefit consumer communities who support them but also how they push the brand into thought leadership territories that make for greater brand awareness. Focusing on these three key issues that compel today’s consumer groups can also drive great returns not only financially but in improved corporate culture as well.
So to answer the question– yes, being a ‘woke’ company can take a lot of work and commitment but it does make for good ROI. You get to make the world safer while establishing your brand as a socially responsible model to your consumers who freely give their loyalty in return.