In the past year, we have witnessed a major shift in social activism. Millions across the globe joined together to fight for justice and equality. Along with that, many companies and organizations expressed their solidarity on their social media pages and websites. Some companies made statements and took action. A few companies announced their advocacy but lacked resources and were unable to implement them. And other companies advertised their involvement but only did it to increase their social capital; this is an example of performative activism.
Performative activism, also known as bandwagon activism, is a form of activism that is done for the purpose of maximizing a person/organization’s social capital. This term gained recognition with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Various companies, organizations, and even public figures were called out for showing little to no effort towards the movement. As criticism has pointed out, their motivation behind their actions can be deemed as part of the problem, as they were trying to avoid backlash rather than genuinely supporting the cause.
Engaging in activism starts with having a meaningful intention. Start by asking yourself…
What is the purpose of our social activism campaign?
- Figure out what makes your organization passionate, motivated, and committed to this particular movement.
Whose voices are we amplifying?
- Your organization should support causes that are aligned with its ethics and values. It is imperative that your organization gives the movement a platform for its voice to be heard.
What can my organization do internally to solve this issue?
- Identify ways your organization can promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Some ideas might be educating your employees through diversity and ally training or engaging in constructive conversations about social issues.
- Develop more inclusive hiring strategies and strengthen anti-discriminatory policies.
What can my organization do externally to solve this issue?
- Communicate with your local community members on what work needs to be done. Invite shareholders, consumers, and investors to join the cause by involving them in the movement and spreading the message.
- Encourage volunteerism amongst your colleagues and sponsor activist events
Steps to take towards a positive change
- Develop strategies that benefit underrepresented communities.
- Fund programs or donate to advocacy groups.
- Work alongside non-profit organizations and minority-owned businesses.
- Collaborate with local social justice organizations.
Engaging in activism is an integral part of corporate social responsibility. If done correctly, your organization will reap many benefits. Your organization will gain support from your consumers, resulting in their willingness to spend more on your products. You may also see an increase in funding from your investors. Evidently, studies show that this causes a boost in employee performance and overall happiness. Most importantly, your organization will be making strides towards a positive change and your community will thank you for it.
Sonja is 2021 RDW Spring intern. She is a senior at Salve Regina University studying Marketing with a minor in Business Admin. She is enrolled in Salve Regina’s Joint Bachelor’s Master’s program and hopes to receive her MBA with a concentration in Social Ventures in May 2022. She is from Massachusetts and enjoys going traveling in her free time.