While 2017 was the year companies stood up for social justice issues, 2018 will be regarded as the year companies took action. Supporting social justice issues became mainstream this year as employees turned into activists demanding change within their own companies and businesses joined growing social movements – lending support to grassroots efforts like #TIMESUP and March for Our Lives. In 2018, we saw investors making their voices – and demands – heard and major companies making such bold commitments that the ripple effect may advance the sustainability progress of entire industries.
As the year draws to a close, we evaluated a year’s worth of purpose-driven news, activities, campaigns and announcements to bring you the top 10 trends of 2018:
Mainstreaming social justice: While more companies have been addressing social justice issues over the past few years, this year we saw mainstream companies go bigger and bolder with their support. No longer relegated to companies like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s, this year we saw Nike choose Colin Kaepernick (to the chagrin of some) as the face of 30th anniversary campaign for “Just Do It,” Levi Strauss’ CEO take sides on gun control and Dick’s Sporting Goods enter the fray as the new champion of gun control advocates.
Applying ads to change assumptions: The advertising industry came together in 2017 to form the global Unstereotype Alliance to leverage the power of advertising to change perceptions. Now we’re seeing those efforts gain traction. Gap won praise for its ad aimed at “normalizing breastfeeding,” while Apple celebrated marriage equality in Australia with an ad sharing same-sex marriage moments. Barbie also took a lead in educating parents about the “Dream Gap” through a powerful video showing how young girls begin to develop limiting self-beliefs as early as age 5.
Employee activism on the rise: As hot-button issues and the movements surrounding them become ever-more pervasive, employees are starting to take a microscope to the operations and actions of their own employers. Nike faced a lawsuit from four female employees over gender discrimination, while Google employees took to the streets in a protest over the company’s handling of sexual harassment. Meanwhile, Deloitte employees took issue with the company’s consulting contract for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the wake of the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
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