By Matt Hocken:
Last week people everywhere were celebrating International Women’s Day.
Some were celebrating the wins, the progress and the change that continues to happen every day. Others were proudly showing their support in a very public way. No act is selfless after all.
WOMEN was the word of the day. Men everywhere were high-fiving team mates for their chromosomes, wearing pink (because that’s what women do right?), wolf-whistling success not sex-ess and the brand-wagon was in full swing.
McDonalds, Brewdog, KFC and Johnny Walker to name but a few hoisted their flags up the mast in support of women’s rights. Some made me laugh, some made me groan and others tried in vain to make a point. Did they do anything more than create a good news story for the brand though?
Companies exist to make money and the news follows society, give the people what they want, so it makes sense to do what these brands did. They’re supporting women because it’s easy. Much easier than providing flexible working hours for mothers, equal pay or equal employment…
My point is though, that brands are being forced to change. Power to the people.
As a natural cynic it would be easy to sit here and bemoan the lack of real change, which I did want to do, but the fact that companies now believe it is better, easier and more profitable to talk to women like equals, to champion them as people is progress in itself.
All we have to do is make them accountable. As PR people we’re often positioned as the voice of the audience. We have the ability to make campaigns into actions externally, but also internally, we just have to make our voices heard. This doesn’t just go for women either.
In the age of authenticity – the companies doing it right will succeed – words are no longer enough.