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March, 21, 2023  |    |  

Awareness Days: Creating Meaningful Impact

Awareness days provide an opportunity to highlight important global issues and showcase what your organisation is doing to tackle them but choosing which days to participate in and what to say can be a challenge.

Josephine Billany
Josephine is an analyst at Junxion, using her skills in research and data analysis to help clients be better for people and the planet.

There is an awareness day for almost everything now and sometimes this can feel a bit overwhelming. However, awareness raising is a crucial initial step in the pathway to positive behaviour change.

People often don’t know what they can do to support the resolution of the issues that are important to them. Once they gain an understanding of the problems and potential solutions they can become empowered to take action. In essence, you can’t solve an issue until you are aware of its existence and root causes; therein lies the value of international awareness days.

Unfortunately, in some cases businesses’ ‘awareness raising’ social posts can leave you wanting. We all know of companies paying lip service to issues, saying how much they care without evidencing any action they are taking to help the cause. Here we lay out a few key steps businesses should take to show they mean what they say, avoid ethics-washing and amplify awareness through high impact action. 

Make It Relevant

One of the best things organisations can do when considering taking action on a social or environmental issue is to align it with their social purpose. A social purpose is an organisation’s reason for existence beyond generating a profit (read more on social purpose in our previous blog post). For example, Tony’s Chocolonely is on a mission to make 100% slave free the norm in chocolate, a material issue in their industry. They advocate for and innovate towards achieving their goal and even challenge sector peers to join them in their effort. You can find them raising awareness about modern slavery on their platforms all the time – not just on the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery.

Junxion exists to ‘accelerate the shift to the purpose economy’ and so we often support mission-aligned communities by offering our expertise or amplifying their messages. This month is B Corp Month, we often work collaboratively with B Lab and fellow B Corps to advocate for the movement – check out our most recent post related to this. We recently became supporters of the Canadian Employee Ownership Coalition, a network of Canadians committed to unlocking the potential of employee-ownership for the benefit of Canada’s economy and workers – a relevant and worthy cause!

It should be fairly obvious why an organisation has chosen a particular issue to tackle and therefore speak to or celebrate on a relevant awareness day. For example our clients Brompton, the pioneers of the folding commuter’s bicycle, run events each year for World Car Free Day. It is logical, relevant and meaningful. Supporting the transition to a lower carbon future is inherently what they stand for, no need for a justification. 

Make It Proportional

Another important consideration that businesses should make when looking to take action against global issues, is to ensure that they have an appropriate level of ambition. It isn’t the same if two companies donate $1 million to a charity if one has an annual turnover of $100 million and the other $100 billion. Big corporations making big noise about taking small actions is yet another form of ethics-washing. Equally, small businesses shouldn’t feel as though they must boil the ocean. It’s important not to do too much, particularly if it’s at the expense of staff wellbeing, business viability or the quality of the impact. A great way to ensure your efforts are proportionate is to set percentage based targets instead of fixed numbers. In this way, large companies can avoid exaggerating their impact, small companies can avoid greenblushing (underselling their good work) and companies can all be more responsible.

Salesforce is taking the right size action. They have committed to giving 1% of product, 1% of staff time, and 1% of equity back to the community as part of the movement, Pledge 1%, which they co-founded. By donating 1% of their product, that action is intrinsically relevant too!

Make It Comprehensive

While it is important and admirable to be taking action to solve problems in your local community or even worldwide, there is a dark sense of irony when companies neglect to first solve the problems under their own roofs. It should go without saying that companies should ensure that they have policies and practices in place that ensure justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are upheld throughout their organisation; however, companies don’t always do this before taking action beyond their doors. Not only is this morally questionable but it’s a reputational risk, too.

Our client the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is mandated to explore the subject of human rights in order to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others, and to encourage reflection and dialogue. Unsurprisingly, they often run events to raise awareness on days like Human Rights Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation but the museum ensures they are taking action to uphold human rights both internally and externally. For example, they have produced a framework to create a safe, respectful and healthy workplace, established a Diversity and Inclusion Committee and run staff training about issues such as sexual harassment and anti-black implicit bias. They are taking action at all levels, it is comprehensive.

For organisations looking to review their internal policies and practices to see where they can improve, the B Impact Assessment is a great tool to get started with embedding social and environmental action.

Make It Known

Once you have taken relevant, proportional and comprehensive action to tackle an issue, feel free to make it known – shout it from the rooftops! People appreciate businesses that are genuine, authentic and honest. So tell us what you have planned, show us your roadmaps to action. Then next year, show us your progress and how you plan to further your positive impact. You could even choose to be a leader and demonstrate how other like-minded organisations can contribute to a bigger version of change. Challenge your peers to join you in raising awareness through high-impact action. Let’s Be Audacious, Together!

Are you ready to make positive impact? We can help you define your purpose, plan your impact, tell your story and embrace accountability. Get in touch to find out more.