The Importance of Business Involvement with Social Justice - in conversation with April Jeffries

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An empathy activist, April Jeffries is an advocate for the involvement of businesses with social justice. April serves as the President for Global Ethnography and Immersion at Ipsos. A trained engineer and marketer, April leads a team that leverages the power of observation and immersive study of real people in real life. She works to refine research algorithms and reveal the human truth behind data.

We are in conversation with April about the importance of Corporate Social Justice in corporations, and the role that businesses can, and even should play.

April, corporate social justice is the reframing of CSR — taking it to the next level. There is no legal or social obligation, just the want to create positive change. In your opinion, what is the importance of business involvement in social justice?

“Over the past decades, corporations have relied on CSR programs — social issue marketing, philanthropic efforts, and so on. Today, globally, consumers, employees, and other groups of stakeholders are raising the bar. The old best practices from the CSR playbook no longer work. Gears have been shifted and the focus is now on corporate social justice.

“When it comes to social justice and corporations — it can be a tricky concept. Corporations have to make sure that they are doing it for the right reasons. Consumers today expect brands to take a stand on important issues. According to research we have done, 54% of consumers expect brands to take a stand on important issues like equality and equity. However, if we zoom in on younger consumers, aged 18–24 years old, that statistic goes up to 65%. So, taking a stand on important social issues is critical for ongoing support and business success.

“There are numerous ways in which corporations can integrate corporate social justice into their framework. It starts with identifying an issue that lies at the intersection of your company’s mission and the unmet needs of your stakeholders. Then, actually situating your company in an ecosystem where it can make a difference and create a more just society. Taking a strong stance and regularly evaluating progress is key.

“Another factor to consider is that there is a risk of not taking a stand. The stand you take must be reflective of your brand. Corporations need to be authentic in terms of what they have stood for in the past, and there needs to be substantial action behind their words. As I said before, there is a risk in not doing the aforementioned because a growing number of consumers do demand that brands make a difference.

“There is a connection between consumers, brands, and the government. Money is one binding factor, and the other is trust. Some of the work we have done has shown that trust in government has diminished. This is not just happening in the US, it’s a global trend. People are turning toward organizations and institutions that they do trust. We don’t want to leave that feeling of trust to be guided by social media or people’s individual bubbles — instead, it should be guided by the stand organizations take on important issues, and the trust they can build upon that.”

Thank you for sharing, April.

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