Activating with Purpose: How Brands Too Can Make a Difference for Women

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By: Lindsey Snow, Senior Account Executive

It’s no secret that women’s rights and female empowerment have taken center stage in today’s society. Just this past weekend hundreds of thousands of women and men, again took to the streets to make their voices heard across the US on human rights, gender equality and parity, immigration reform, healthcare, reproductive rights, racial and LGBT equality and countless other issues. This coming at a time when movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are galvanizing women globally to elicit real change—igniting a spark that’s led to the groundswell for women’s rights we’re experiencing today.

With all of this focus on women and gender equality continuing to dominate conversations in the media, it’s no surprise that consumers are taking notice – something that companies should not take lightly as the majority of Americans (76 percent) say they would boycott a company based on corporate values. Even more notable, is that more than eighty percent (84 percent) rank women’s rights as one of the most pressing issues they expect companies to address. Here’s a roundup of four companies committing to gender equality in big ways:

  • Citigroup announced a new commitment to closing the gender pay gap, becoming the first major U.S. bank to analyze and disclose its compensation data. The company will now increase pay for women in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, as well as U.S. minorities in an effort to close the gap and will also assess pay level in other countries where more than 200,000 of its employees work. This is a move that separates the firm from its financial peers, allowing them to emerge as not just a responsible company but a true leader in gender parity and for women
  • CVS Health* has long been regarded as true Purpose-driven company that embeds its Purpose of helping people on their path to better health across its entire enterprise whether through banning the sale of tobacco, delivering healthier food offerings or removing chemicals from its store brand beauty line. The company recently made headlines again when it announced a commitment to eliminate materially altered images from its store beauty products by 2020 and to introduce a watermark called the “CVS Beauty Mark,” to signify unaltered images. CVS said a driving factor behind the commitment was in response to the larger conversation today on women and female empowerment in society.
  • Nissan is another company that’s recently come into the spotlight for its new campaign #SheDrives, following the decision of Saudi Arabia’s government to overturn the ban on women driving cars. When the company learned that there was backlash following this decision, deterring many women from wanting to drive, they started the campaign to encourage women to apply for their license and put an end to the stigma and hesitation. Nissan launched #SheDrives with a documentary-style video that features a group of women who are offered a special driving lesson, which —unbeknownst to them— is instructed by close men in their lives. Having the support of their male loved ones inspires confidence in the women behind the wheel. The campaign is another example of how companies can play a role in helping to champion women and drive meaningful change on societal issues.

In the same way we’re seeing issues that have plagued women for centuries finally being thrusted into the limelight thanks to grassroots efforts, major companies can also be part of the solution by using their size and scale to create a wave of support —and also real change— for women. And as these major companies make commitments, other companies will likely have to follow suit in taking action that leads to substantial and lasting impact.

While hashtags may be just another trending topic, the commitments and change companies choose to make will be lasting and bring us one step closer to achieving true gender equality.

*Cone client