The win by the U.S. soccer team at the 2019 World Cup was a victory for women and the equality agenda everywhere. We cheered, cried and stood back to admire the skill and grit the women displayed. And sports enthusiasts were not alone.
Companies also chose the moment to recognize the profound impact women have had on soccer, and society as a whole. Nike’s video celebrating the victory moments after the final whistle was certainly beautiful, and some would argue brave, considering the challenges the company has faced from female employees and athletes. P&G deodorant brand Secret’s donation of $23,000 for each of the 23 players matched money with their advocacy. In both cases, companies chose to stand up on behalf of issues that spoke authentically to their heritage—aspects both good and challenging. P&G is an APCO client.
We know from our Agility research that “Shared Advocacy” is a critical element of building a more competitive, agile and profitable organization. This means investing time and money in causes that align with your values, and advocating on behalf of stakeholders. And we increasingly see companies taking bold stands that can either cause us to cheer, or sometimes, cringe. But whatever your perspective, companies are having to react much more quickly, and speak when the world is paying close attention.
So, how do you stay current, much less ahead of the competition? Our data shows that curious companies have an edge. For many of our clients, this means putting systems in place that allow for predictive analysis. For example, our Telescope methodology is one way to identify emerging influencers and build communities online to help carry messages to a broader, less predictable audience that can sway opinion.
The good news: companies have an opportunity to convert a social risk into corporate advocacy. Just look at Coca-Cola Co. which faced criticism for allegedly depleting the local water supply in communities in India—even where it did not have operations. Although Coca-Cola initially said that facts proved otherwise, this incident served as a wake-up call for the company to address its responsibilities, recognizing that a sustainable approach to water is essential to its business. Beyond India, Coca-Cola committed to replenishing the water it uses in its finished products across the globe, a goal it set for 2020 and met in 2015.
It is also important to not lose your employees along the way—they want a say as well! In fact, empowering employees is critical to building an agile company. Employees want to help shape values and challenge the status quo. Let them—it will pay off with retention and loyalty!
Bottom line: companies have an unprecedented chance to influence the social landscape, take a stand and make a meaningful difference. It is what society wants to see, and employees are demanding. Our research validates the correlation between doing good and driving profit, and the women’s soccer team victory was a poignant example of what’s possible.