Last month’s sold-out Engage for Good conference in Chicago attracted social impact professionals from 36 states and 10 countries and featured 81 amazing speakers on a wide variety of topics (Missed it? Check out the virtual pass with recordings of all keynote and breakout sessions).
One of the highlights from this year’s Engage for Good main stage presentations was a panel on brand activism featuring REI’s Laura Swapp, Bank of America’s Sue Burton and The Body Shop’s Jayme Jenkins, moderated by ACTIO’s Scott Beaudoin.
You can watch the video of their engaging conversation here (or by clicking the image below) but here were a few take-aways:
- After Parkland, REI approached a vendor in an attempt to engage them in a conversation about one of their businesses that made assault-style weapons. REI paused their purchases from the company but kept the relationship open. The company has since divested all gun-related businesses. REI’s advice: focus on the positive, be a bridge-builder and don’t allow people to force you into choosing sides.
- The Body Shop has focused on helping employees and consumers become activists for their ‘Forever Against Animal Testing’ campaign, equipping them with tools to lobby the government to abolish all animal testing in Canada. They’ve collected more petition signatures than any other petition to date. Their tip? Don’t be afraid to enter the conversation. Start small with an issue that’s core to your brand. Learn from that experience and take it from there.
- Bank of America spends careful planning time prior to getting involved in any social issue. For example, after the Parkland shootings, the Bank opted to take time to consider the issue fully before taking a stand (they eventually opted to stop banking companies that made assault-style weapons). Their counsel: create continuous dialogue with people (either inside or outside your organization) that can help you better understand the topic at hand. Know which issues you will say opt not to engage with and which are core to your business.
If you joined us in Chicago last month, thank you for being part of an amazing conference experience. Please keep us apprised of your social impact successes over the summer!
Engage for Good
P.S. Be sure to check out these awesome blog posts (and podcasts!) on the Engage for Good Conference.