Doing GOOD Requires Authentic Leadership

Posted: Dec 20 2013, 10:46am CST | by


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Doing GOOD Requires Authentic Leadership
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Over the last five years several top brands have partnered with GOOD/CORPS to execute notable social campaigns.

GOOD/CORPS is the consulting arm of GOOD Worldwide, a media platform that produces a quarterly magazine, website, and a number of online tools aimed at “moving the world forward”.

Grant Garrison is the cofounder and Director of Partnerships & Strategy for GOOD/CORPS—a small team that has worked with a myriad of clients to engineer solutions for some of the most pressing social challenges. After leading several projects Garrison has been able to crystallize what works and what doesn’t. He has found that a viral campaign requires a few essential ingredients, but the most important is authentic leadership.

There is growing pressure for authentic leadership from stakeholders, socially conscious consumers, and employees who to work for companies with a greater mission. Companies are reacting to this demand. Garrison said, “I think it would be surprising to some folks, who share my political persuasion, just how genuine the interest to have positive impact is inside of companies. It might not mean that everyone there believes in it, but there are a lot of people that are really committed to doing good.”

The consulting group has formed long-term relationships with many different foundations, NGOs, and corporations–including Starbucks. When GOOD first started in 2006, Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, showed up at the company’s headquarters–which was at the time, the founders’ apartment–to express his interest in the company’s work and offer his help. Since then GOOD has worked with Starbucks in a number of ways; GOOD created info-graphics attached to Starbucks’ “Create Jobs for USA” campaign and is featured on Starbucks’ digital network. Additionally, the two companies partnered together to create Vote, Give, Grow, an initiative that recognized the loyalty of MyStarbucks Rewards members by inviting them to help direct $4 million in grants from the Starbucks Foundation to 124 selected nonprofit organizations.

Garrison described GOOD/CORPS’ role in these projects, “We see ourselves as a steward in this process—helping clients find a path towards authentic leadership.” He shared what he believes are the four vital components to authentic leadership (when creating a social campaign):

1.      Pick an issue that is core to your business and brand. By championing a cause that connects with the business at a core level, it is possible to leverage employees and assets. The company can then become an educated member of a broader community that is taking action on the issue. In Q1 of 2014 GOOD/CORPS plans to launch a campaign with DICK’S Sporting Goods that will focus on translating the company’s commitment to youth sports into a movement. Garrison also pointed out that companies such as Chipotle have already adopted this type of leadership. In September Chipotle released a YouTube video titled “The Scarecrow,” the short ad draws attention to harmful agricultural methods and current food policies. The three-minute animated video has over 11 million views so far.

2.       Add value to a community that cares about that issue; don’t just tell your story. It is essential to coalesce into to a community that cares about the same issue you are passionate about Garrison admitted, “A lot of businesses are really eager to hire us and then say ‘we want people to know about the work we are doing’—I don’t think that’s necessarily authentic leadership.” The Pepsi Refresh Project (Good/CORPS’ first initiative) demonstrated some companies’ ability to contribute in an impactful way. Pepsi Refresh raised $32 million in grants to individuals, nonprofits and social enterprises. According to Garrison the funds were raised through “an open-source, democratic platform that demonstrated a latent demand for a national spotlight for community heroes.”

3.      Include members of that community in the planning process and the execution. GOOD/CORPS partnered with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Opportunity Equation to create 100Kin10. 100Kin10 is a program geared towards supporting the STEM education for the next generation of scientists, technologists and engineers. Garrison explained, “100Kin10 is constantly refining this network of 160+ multi-sector partners in order to foster maximum collaboration toward 100,000 new, excellent STEM teachers in classrooms by 2021.” Similarly, Unilever has designed the Challenges and Wants initiative. The company is always open to working with potential partners who can help the company solve 12 challenges it has already identified. These ‘wants’ range from fighting viruses and fat to changing consumer behavior.

 4.       Be transparent about self-interest. I think people are pretty hip to the idea that businesses aren’t doing this out of the goodness of their heart—that they have a self interest in it. So it’s better if people are transparent about that instead of trying to pretend that they are doing it for purely altruistic reasons,” explained Garrison. Pepsi Refresh Project was clearly marked as a marketing initiative, not a CSR initiative. This directness allowed the company to unleash the full power of the Pepsi brand and leverage other business units and corporate relationships.

Source: Forbes

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