The Future of Corporate Communications

We settled on the tagline ‘Enrich Not Exploit’. Many of the team were against using the word ‘exploit’, as it’s too negative. But we stuck with it, because we agreed that we want to be called out for anything negative or exploitative that we’re doing.

That was just one of many quotes which has stuck in my mind over the last few days.

And I know what some of you might be thinking: “Pah! Whoever said that likely represents some corporate behemoth that doesn’t give a damn. It’ll undoubtedly be the latest statement from their greenwash campaign.”

Well, let’s see if I can turn that pessimism upside down, because I think there’s a corporate communications and corporate responsibility (CR) revolution taking place. And I’m pretty excited by it.

By the way, that first quote was by Kate Levine, International Director of Commitment & Corporate Communications, The Body Shop. Read on for more great quotes by Kate and others.

On 25th April, I was fortunate enough to secure a place at The Crowd’s inaugural X Comms event. The X-series is “designed to explore exponential, disruptive, and transformative new ways of doing business.”

True to form, The Crowd had managed to secure some excellent names for their speakers, panellists and moderators, so it was set to be an interesting half-day.

Instead of writing a standard post-event summary or review (I thought it was excellent by the way, so congratulations to The Crowd team), I thought I'd focus on some of my favourite quotes from the day. So here goes.

We’re not just asking ourselves ‘How can we make the world less bad?’, but instead, ‘How can the world be a better place because our organisation is in it?’
— Sue Garrard, SVP Global Communications, Unilever

I love that.

Unilever demonstrates how it remains at the forefront of the CR revolution by asking themselves increasingly difficult questions. For Unilever, “less bad” is too easy. But actually making the world a better place by being in operation? That’s lofty, ambitious, and inspirational.

We must lean in to the bad news. Talking about tough issues is tough. But it’s the best thing to do and the right path to successful authenticity.
— Tim Mohin, Chief Executive, Global Reporting Initiative

The key to being authentic in this age of fake news, said Tim Mohin, is to lean in to the hard times. Tim says we are living in the age of reputation. And reputation means owning the bad as well as the good.

I think it's also a great reminder that businesses, more than ever, should find strength in difficult situations. Like people, businesses should strive to embrace failure and continually improve as a result. Furthermore, they should also embrace disclosure and transparency, not seek to obfuscate.

We don’t want to be the best company in the world, we want to be the best company for the world.
— Kate Levine, International Director of Commitment & Corporate Communications, The Body Shop

Everything Kate Levine said personified The Body Shop’s overwhelming desire to be a planet positive company. Being the "best" company in the world is of no interest. Similar to Unilever, The Body Shop is far more concerned about how many positive contributions it can make to the planet.

You’ll waste all your effort if the desire for change doesn’t come from the top.
— Sue Garrard, SVP Global Communications, Unilever

An apt reminder from Sue Garrard that the desire, the drive, and the determination to change and to be as good as possible simply must be demonstrated by the leaders if a CR strategy is going to stand any chance of being successful.

Leaders take note. The time to act is now.

When we engage with our customers and citizens on better everyday living, that’s our opportunity to create impact.
— Joanna Yarrow, Head of Sustainable & Healthy Living, IKEA

It was great to hear from Joanna Yarrow about the many exciting initiatives that IKEA is working on. The movement from mass consumption to mass circularity is a key focus for the Swedish-founded furniture and homewares giant.

At IKEA, there are currently over 100 initiatives underway that are contributing to the circular economy. There won’t be a single solution to the problem of creating a circular economy, said Joanna, there will be many. And IKEA is doing its utmost to lead the way.

The Body Shop doesn’t just sell products. It also sells a vision for effecting positive change.
— Kate Levine, International Director of Commitment & Corporate Communications, The Body Shop

I really believe this.

Of course, you’d expect The Body Shop's International Director of Commitment & Corporate Communications to talk an excellent game! But... with inspirational case studies and anecdotes aplenty, it's pretty clear that the natural cosmetics giant is doing an incredible job of walking the walk. It was great listening to Kate and hearing how The Body Shop is continually striving to be better every day and, as per her previous quote, if they're not, then they fully expect their customers to call them out.

All in all, it was a very enjoyable afternoon and I left with a renewed sense of optimism about what we can achieve when we try like our planet depends on it. Which is, of course, the case.

Yes, we need these excellent endeavours to be replicated at huge scale and great speed, but we can do it. We just need to start the conversation and collaborate. I think X Comms was a great way to do exactly that.

Here's to the future of corporate communications and responsibility.

Russ Signature.png

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this post, please show the love by clicking the heart button below and sharing it on your social media channels. ;-)