It’s common to think that “politics don’t belong to business”. We want to challenge this belief and help businesses embrace their responsibility to become agents of social change.
Whether you’re a newcomer in the world of business activism or just want a refresher to potentially maximize your business activism potential, this article explores what business activism is and shares some actionable steps to help you get started.
Is Activism For Businesses?
When we think of activism, we often think of social movements, protests, or organized actions against social injustice. However, activism means mobilizing available resources to support social impact causes. And in many cases, who has more resources than businesses - whether that means funds, workforce/people, or platforms with large followings and communities? Businesses can choose to mobilize their resources in support of social causes and join meaningful actions.
What Is Business Activism?
Business activism is a long-term process that requires strategy and commitment. However, it isn’t about complicated or dispendious effort.
Business activism is a series of actions or programs that help your business shift into a platform to catalyze change on social and political issues.
At FairForce, we believe in the motto “dare to change”.
Business activism requires a committed intention to shift away from practices of business-as-usual and the willingness to move beyond the traditional (obsolete, we argue) business tactics. Often we think of impact having to face outward, however we can also be radical agents of change in our internal policies. Whether that means closing the gender pay gap, making a commitment to diversity and inclusion in hiring practices, instating menstrual leave, there are a lot of ways businesses can become activists without ever even touching their product!
That said, if your business’ mission is to help a given audience (people!) solve a problem, then your business has already the potential for being involved with social and community issues.
How To Get Started With Business Activism
Explore Your Community’s Values
To begin, businesses need to understand what causes they care about the most and how these causes can be integrated into their business models. In order to do so, they should survey their users and community, and understand how they can link the business purpose with matters that are relevant to the community and its needs.
What are social or political causes impacting your community that your business can help support?
Connect With Your Community
Business activism must center on the interest of the community and not become a one-way branding tactic. Before advocating for a cause, you need to build real connections and have direct experiences with the community you care about. Make sure to educate yourself and listen to the community to build an in-depth and informed opinion on the matters.
Educate Yourself and Be Proactive
Education and proactive engagement with the cause (or issue) are key steps toward building meaningful business activism.
Before you start exposing yourself and your business to the cause, you need some time and tools to become familiar with it and the narrative you want to embrace. Make sure to dedicate enough resources to learning, paying professionals to help you understand the problem, and proactively work on growing a more informed sense of confidence around the topic.
Drop Perfectionism and Take Risks
Perfectionism is a gatekeeper. Many people hold themselves back from engaging with social impact for the fear of making mistakes and saying the wrong thing. Impact and activism are learning processes that require courage, vulnerability and the intention of taking risks for collective care and higher purposes.
Businesses need to be willing to move beyond their perfectionism and be ready to embrace the risk of vulnerability if they want to advance transformations.
Get the Help of an Expert
There are many community leaders and professionals providing consulting and training around impact and social justice. Partnering up with them to design your unique contribution will be the most valuable step for you to start integrating activism into your business practices.
Define Your Impact Strategy
Do some strategic work on how you and your business intend to position within activism work and assess what are some of the most valuable and needed actions you can take within your business scope to create impact. Impact strategies can be different and their effectiveness depends on the context. Make sure to run an in-depth evaluation of your unique impact blueprint before acting. And again, consider how you can shift your internal policies as well to advocate for greater equality and equity.
Design Action And Programming
Once you have worked on your education and impact assessment, it's time to act. Speak about it, write about it, adjust your business model and offering in order to catalyze causes that matter. Make sure your business is inclusive and able to amplify topics and solutions toward social justice and community care.
We believe that businesses have not only a responsibility but also a wide range of real possibilities to become agents of social change. The options are unique and limitless - now it's your chance to find the approach that works best for you.
Need help? Book a 30-minute free Business Activism Consultation with the FairForce Team! If you would like to help to develop a Business Activism strategy for your business, you can reach out to the FairForce Team.