How non-profits and the individual (that's you) are turning corporations into social do-gooders.
As a marketer, I'm always noticing how the social landscape is being shaped by the direct and indirect forces of the free market. In our times, the word "social" itself is fast amassing various nuances of meaning. What once simply pertained to society itself now pertains to that society and how it interacts, more specifically, Shares and Likes.
Back to the free market -- it's thrilling as a marketer, albeit somewhat frightening as an individual, to see the importance corporations are garnering in our lives. The ever-increasing important function of corporations within society is unavoidable. So much so that both the marketer and individual in me often ponders the proverbial saying, "With great power comes great responsibility." And thus one of the defining questions of most corporations and our time: what exactly is the responsibility of the corporation?
Corporations seeking permanence in the market place recognize that they must strike a balance between profit and acts of social conscience. It's a unanimous unspoken expectation given corporations' sheer market omnipresence and, by extension, status as de facto societal pillars. This inadvertent consequence of the rise of the individual, combined with the empty pockets left to fill with the social responsibilities previously upheld by family, religious institutions and local communities leads to the paradigm shift towards social corporations. Long disputed has been whether corporations with their commercial aims could have noble interests in their giving and social responsibility. The answer is yes. One must hope because, whether we like it or not, those empty pockets of social responsibility are most readily filled by profitable corporations.
There are challenges for corporations trying to "do good," not the least of which is a critical media and social landscape of increasingly, and perhaps even rightfully, cynical consumers. But it's precisely those challenges and dialogues that are forcing corporations into authentic engagement, involvement and giving. Much like the media, individuals serve as monitors and commissioners of defining what social conscience and authentic giving is by voicing their approval and disapproval as to how corporations seek to strike this coveted balance of profit and social conscience. Already this past #GivingTuesday we received some questions from our audience that is helping us evaluate and improve.
Even though we have experienced and continue to witness the rise of the individual, it is also, ironically, the most connected we've ever been as a society. A new form of community has emerged. Today we are able to band together across borders in a call to aid with one tweet and shared blog post. Getting together as a community no longer requires the physicality of a town hall -- a simple hashtag will do. Trending topics and Likes are a lot more powerful then we realize, their existence -- let's face it, their votes -- offer great hope for our future and how the social market can influence the capital market. To us this is what #GivingTuesday as a movement is all about. It is both hope and action that we can build communities for change and good. It's why we knew instantly that we, ALDO, wanted to be a part of this movement that best leverages our current context as well as provide a platform.
Of note is that corporations are beginning to see themselves as micro-communities with macro reach and are increasingly creating not-for-profit "do good" initiatives within and across their organizations. Why? Because it's trending. Social good has been a part of the ALDO values from its inception. It is in this spirit and as part of our brand's 40th anniversary that we hosted a Salon series in late October, in the form of panel discussions. Our aim? To gather the instigators who share in the ALDO values and belief that companies can thrive both in corporate responsibility and corporate potential. To spark the debate, the social corporation panel Dov Charney (American Apparel), Guy Laliberte (Cirque du Soleil) and Aldo Bensadoun (ALDO) set out to probe the important questions of our contemporary era -- in terms of the role of the corporation in shaping society by forming communities towards good that you can view here.
For us, Giving Tuesday marks the date on what should be a yearlong commitment. Tweet us @aldo_shoes and share your story with us of how #GivingTuesday has become part of your #Everyday.
This blog is part of our #GivingTuesday series, produced by The Huffington Post and the teams at InterAction, 92nd Street Y, United Nations Foundation, and others. Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday -- which takes place for the first time on Tuesday, November 27 -- is a movement intended to open the holiday season on a philanthropic note. Go to www.givingtuesday.org to learn more and get involved.
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