World Values Day, October 18, was a busy day for me this year. I started at the Socitm North conference in Darlington, spent some time with a potential infrastructure provider and ended up at the Dynamites 18 awards dinner in Newcastle. Before then I attended the latest North East Initiative on Business Ethics event at Northumbria University.
According to its web site, ‘World Values Day is an opportunity to think about our most deeply held values and to act on them. Staying true to our values and acting on them has never been more important.’
What better way to celebrate the day than by listening to Sarah Hall, president of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations for 2018. She talked about the role of PR in helping bring together a fractured society, how linking social purpose to organisational objectives is a commercial imperative and the role of brands in addressing the fake news crisis.
Her examples of the recent Nike and Lush campaigns showed us how having a clearly stated position on an issue, even if it is controversial, can lead to revenue and profit growth. Profit and social benefit do not have to be separate things. Good works can come out of a commercial process. Taking a stance though can be difficult, it takes authenticity and bravery. Not everyone is going to like what you say or do.
Sarah added that 86% of people believe there is a leadership crisis in the world today. There is clearly a failure in politics. A climate of division is being created rather than one of collaboration and harmony. Permission has been given to awful people to say and do awful things.
Instead people are looking for leadership from the brands that they trust. They invest in them through their own pockets. Some, such as Facebook are struggling with unintended consequences while others, such as Nike and Lush are addressing issues of racism and authoritarianism head on.
The North East Initiative on Business Ethics is working with companies to help them state their ethical position. Their PR departments clearly have a role to play in supporting their values.