“America, We Break It, It’s Gone” was the provocative header for Thomas Friedman’s Op-Ed in the New York Times yesterday. Mr. Friedman suggests that we look to corporations, social entrepreneurs, and local officials as sources for leadership and positive action. He mentions AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson acknowledging Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that “All of us C.E.O.s have large African-American employee bodies. We owe it to them to make sure we’re speaking to this.…to address what seem to be constant and recurring injustices.”
Corporations and brands in particular have consumer permission to talk about social causes. In fact, according to our research, they’d prefer it over traditional ads. The ARF’s Cultural Effectiveness Council, that I’m a proud member of, has recently produced a webinar on social cause as a way in for advertisers to reach 21st Century audiences. In fact, many of today’s leading businesses have ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) departments or CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) functions that are already involved with developing and communicating socially responsible programs for employees and the communities in which they serve.
Given the events of the past week, there’s now a clarion call for brand marketing to work in tandem with their philanthropic departments to be relevant, inclusive, and to communicate to the public at large and all their stakeholders about the initiatives they’re taking to combat racism.
When there is a dearth of empathy and action at the highest levels of government our corporations and brands have the resources and public goodwill to use their bully pulpit to speak up and lead.