It’s the New Year, so we get to be forward-thinking, and even hopeful, about what the next 12 months will bring. After all, resolutions are just wishes with a plan of action attached to them.
In terms of corporate responsibility, we are on a great path. In 2017, companies claimed the responsibility and influence they have to help people and improve the planet, in addition to earning a profit. According to this month’s Harvard Business Review, CEOs have become the new activists on issues that go beyond business. This is great progress! Corporations are using the power of capital to serve and make real change.
CEOs speaking up on controversial topics that could diminish sales is super inspiring, even, or maybe especially, if you don’t agree with the points of view they are taking. For years, Chick-Fil-A has risked financial profits by being closed on Sundays and being vocal against gay marriage, citing religious beliefs. Although my views may be different, I applaud the company for being transparent about and committed to its values. And, I was really encouraged by the company’s decision to work on a Sunday to serve food to those stranded during the blackout at the Atlanta airport. What all of this says to me is that the company is real, authentic, principled, and sees its role as one that serves people and stands for more than just making money. Amen to that.
This is all great, and in 2018, I want even more. The next step is for companies to admit to the ways in which they are causing problems, all the while they are trying to solve them.
I love the company KIND Snacks, but not necessarily the food they produce. I’ve often called their bars “candy in disguise” because they have too much sugar to be considered “healthy,” even though they may have less sugar than most. But, I love their kindness campaigns, their kind mission, and the work they do to help people. I am an exuberant fan of the stunt they pulled last summer by dumping 45,485 pounds of sugar in Times Square, which is equivalent to the amount that the company says American children consume every five minutes. They did this to promote their new line of fruit snacks, which has no added sugar.
This is a great start, but companies need to do more. The “more” I am looking for from KIND, and every other company that clearly recognizes a problem and is working to create its solution, is to be transparent in their messaging, to connect the dots, even if doing so points to the ways in which they might be contributing to the problem.
To accomplish this, the already amazing KIND Snacks could create messaging that is even more direct about the fact that they developed the sugarless line to give their customers a truly healthy snack that can be eaten more frequently than their other snacks, which should be considered more of a treat than something to be consumed daily.
As 2017 came to a close, I was impressed by Facebook, which addressed social media critics (scientists, actually) who brought to the forefront the ways in which social media is altering our brain function, and thus society as a whole, in a negative way. Facebook’s response, in which Mark Zuckerberg said the company will cut profits in order to improve security and other issues, is exactly what I wish all companies will do in 2018: Admit that there are times they have been part of the problem and that they will do better.
Isn’t that what we all strive to do in the New Year? Realize our shortcomings, decide to improve, and take the necessary actions to do so. Here’s to a New Year in which American companies take the next step in becoming society’s heroes.