Being a business owner means you have power over what you and your brand stand for. With the country (and world) right now, businesses playing a role in activism are becoming more and more essential. Activism is a great tool that you can use to make a positive impact on a cause that you are passionate about. Our personal beliefs are becoming increasingly popular and important for our clients and customers to be aware of. Most people want to know what business owners value before they spend their money supporting their business. There is, of course, an opportunity to abuse business activism. Many large, corporate brands practice do this every month there is a special designation (think Black History Month or Pride). Companies slap a certain logo or flag on their website to appease others and attract more business. It’s super important to understand how use your business for activism in the right way. Here are five action steps for you can use in your business.
Align your Personal Beliefs with a Cause
Set aside some time where you can really dig deep and evaluate what you believe. Discover what you’re passionate about. Then, take those passions and do some research to find organizations and causes that are supporting those same passions. Start interacting and supporting these organizations, or you can even create something yourself. If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s my love for my culture. As a proud Puerto Rican woman, I actively support Hispanic and Latino causes. I even co-founded the Boundless Audio Podcast Network, with the mission of the network to uplift the voices of marginalized communities, specifically women, and women of color. I aligned my personal beliefs and passions with causes that are important to me.
Know your Target Audience
The phrase target audience may be thrown around frequently, but it really is a key player in so many aspects of your business. Your target audience is who you’re sharing your passions and trying to advocate towards. My target audience is women in business. I also recognize that every woman in business does not have the same philosophy that I do or supports the same causes that I do. I make my beliefs known and if people want to overlook that and still find value in my content, that’s awesome. If they don’t, that’s their decision. Regardless of their actions, I know who my target audience is and aim to provide value for them and allow them to make whatever decisions they need to for themselves and their beliefs.
Admit your Mistakes
We are all on a journey of learning and growing. Along the way, we probably will make some mistakes in our language or actions. It’s okay to make mistakes, but it’s how we respond to our mistakes that makes the difference. Always, always, always admit your mistakes, don’t try and hide them. It’s important to establish that you are still trying to learn and that you’re doing your best. Explain that you want to be an ally, or active in these communities. People will see your humility and take that as being genuine. Remember, we’re all in different stages of learning. Admitting your mistakes is super important to building trust with your audience and allowing them to see into your heart.
Do your Research
We should be very clear and authentic with what we are advocating for. There can be multiple layers to a cause and it’s very important to dig through it all to make sure you fully understand the mission and values of any organization you and your business may be supporting. Research online, ask questions, and make sure you are aware of the nuances of causes you may support. Again, we’re all on a path of learning. Doing your research will help you align your business better and help you to create activism the right way.
Give Proof and Show Results
Talking about a topic you’re passionate about is important, but it takes active steps to really solidify it. When you truly care about something, you are willing to sacrifice for it. Whether it is money, time, or effort, there’s some type of giving that is required. When you take action, it is proof that you care about what you’re advocating for. You want to show that you are actually being active in your business.
When you do take these steps of activism in your business, there runs a risk of alienating yourself from people who do not agree with what you stand for. This is something that you need to evaluate personally. Are you willing to take that risk? It’s becoming increasingly clear that people want to know who they are supporting when they are buying from a business. I believe it’s important to let those beliefs be known. So if you’re going to be an activist in your business, make sure that you’re doing things that are genuine so that people know where you really stand and what your business supports.