Justice and Equality: A Social Purpose Response
We are feeling compelled to say a few words about the protests and riots in Minnesota and across North America this past weekend, triggered by the senseless and horrific murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others. As Martin Luther King Jr. explained 53 years ago, “A riot is the language of the unheard.”
While businesses are being targeted by the pent up anger and rage of generations, with their vast influence and visibility in the public eye, they have also being given the de facto responsibility of a response to these events.
It comes as no surprise that Purpose-led businesses are once again leaning heavily on their Purpose as they respond to this latest crisis.
Target CEO Brian Cornell states:
“As a Target team, we’ve huddled, we’ve consoled, we’ve witnessed horrific scenes similar to what’s playing out now and wept that not enough is changing. And as a team we’ve vowed to face pain with purpose.”
Prior to this, in response to Covid-19, Target announced investment of more than $300 million in added wages; along with a new paid leave program, bonus payouts and relief fund contributions for its staffers working hard to keep shelves stocked.
Nike released a video last Friday that began, “For once, Don’t Do It. Don’t pretend there’s not a problem in America.”
Purpose Response to COVID
The business world has also been navigating the pandemic — and leaning on purpose to do so. Here are some great examples:
In response to Covid-19, Nike’s leaders, the Nike Foundation and Nike have committed more than $25 million to COVID-19 response efforts around the world. Nike’s teams have produced and shipped more than 360,000 units of personal protective equipment to approximately 30 hospitals and healthcare providers across the United States.
Seattle-based Nordstrom’s top executives condemned the senseless death in a letter to employees. “We need change. As a company, we know we have the opportunity to make things better, which is why over the past several years we’ve amplified our efforts when it comes to diversity, inclusion and belonging at Nordstrom. It begins not only by speaking out, but by listening. Listening to our employees, customers and neighbors as they share what it’s like to be a person of color in our country today.
In response to Covid-19, Nordstrom had its alteration teams in several states sew hundreds of thousands of medical masks for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis.
As the world hurtles through seemingly more and more severe crisis, the business world has an opportunity to step up with its power and influence to make massive positive change by adopting a societal purpose.
We challenge all companies to think about how they might join the effort for equality and justice and bring all they have to bear to create the change we need to see.
– Mary Ellen, Monika and Phil