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Protests and the role of Corporations

June 9, 2020
By CSE
Protests and the role of Corporations

By Rosalinda Sanquiche

 

London, Madrid, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, Pretoria – the globe is protesting racism, uniting in reaction to deep seated problems manifesting in the US.  Companies are listening and reacting in ways which are important to Sustainability and aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This human crisis is affording multinational corporations the opportunity to realize and, in some cases for the first time, truly take on # 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth – for everyone and # 10 Reduced Inequalities.  And, the only way to do so is through #17 Partnerships.

McDonald’s is making large donations to organizations working to improve the lives of people of color.  Making a direct connection between brand and business, they acknowledge that consumers are watching how brands act in this moment.  The company has encouraged its franchises and vendors, reaching out to its supply chain, to take the time to listen and speak up against social injustice.

The corporate world is looking at the total world in which they operate and asking how they can be part of the solution.  Multinational corporations Nike, Facebook and Lego have pledged millions of dollars in the wake of the protests in the US.

Statements are meaningless without follow through.  Polling shows positive favorability toward companies which take action on social justice, donate to small businesses or impacted communities, even companies which support both protesters and police.  Staying silent is the least favorable (negative) position a company can take.

Social justice represents seven of the seventeen SDGs.  As Disney, P&G, Starbucks and TikTok demonstrate, opportunities exist for CEOs, VPs, executives and sustainability professionals with systems thinking, global vision and risk management skills.  If you are responsible for sustainability at your company, you must understand the interrelated dynamics of education, poverty, justice and strong institutions.  The role of corporate leaders is evolving as quickly as the world is changing.  Make sure you’re prepared.

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