Companies such as The North Face and Patagonia recently announced their participation in the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ initiative, in which companies are urged to stop paying for ads on Facebook platforms during the month of July because Facebook has done too little against hateful and racist expressions on their channels. Coca-Cola, Ben & Jerry’s, Levi’s and Starbucks quickly followed suit. And more companies continue to follow. What’s the impact on the reputation of a company that joins a Stop Hate for Profit initiative?
It’s no longer just about profit
It is the time that a company’s function in society grows. Research shows that 90% of consumers in the Netherlands believe that business should make a visible, meaningful contribution to society. However, it must be clear why and how the organization pursues a social goal. Credibility is increasingly important to consumers.
Be, do and say
How credible is joining an initiative like ‘Stop Hate for Profit’? In our reputation model, the first step is research. Positioning is the second step: determining whether a company wants to express an opinion on a certain theme. In this case, many companies have done so by speaking out on social media against racism in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. Participating in an initiative, such as Stop Hate for Profit, goes one step further: companies are taking action by stopping their advertisements in the battle against hate speech and racism.
The goal of positioning a company is to gain credibility by continuously implementing and propagating it. However, there are more factors that play a role in achieving credibility: are companies honest about their own part in diversity and inclusion? Do they look at themselves with a critical eye when it comes to taking a stand and communicating about it, both internally and externally? The more genuine attention a company pays to diversity and inclusion, the more credible it is when it speaks out.
No change without consistency
In the case of ‘Stop Hate for Profit’, joining the initiative is a means of exerting pressure to collectively achieve a higher goal, i.e. to combat hate speech and racism on Facebook platforms. For the affiliated companies, this can be part of a positioning that has been in place for years, or a starting point to work on it. Wherever the company stands, it is important for the credibility of the company that it is not a one-off action. Because with continuous attention to diversity and inclusion, you only achieve change.
Diversity and inclusion on social media
A company should continuously communicate on social media what their positioning is with regard to diversity and inclusion. This does not have to be done by making a big statement, but by making well-considered choices. Think about the following:
- Involve a diverse team in the development of content and campaigns in order to include different points of view and experiences.
- Pay attention to diversity when choosing or creating a visual, especially when people are depicted.
- Consider the words you use and the associations they can evoke, such as ‘being on the blacklist’ and ‘manpower’.
- Take a close look at possible (influencer) collaborations to determine whether they fit with the company’s positioning around diversity & inclusion.
- Make sure that the filter for negative language on your social media channel is set to strong, so that hate remarks cannot be placed on the page or underneath the content. Lastly, make sure the webcare team has a strict a zero tolerance policy.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.