Purpose before bandwagon

27 March 2023 | 3 min read | ESG
Lucie Willis
Lucie Willis

Earlier this month, PR and marketing bods at businesses across the world carefully crafted and lined up their tweets, blogs and LinkedIn manifestos in support of International Women’s Day. And quite right too, to get behind this important campaign to draw attention to ongoing issues in the women’s rights movement, including gender equality.

But gone are the days when businesses can schedule a perfunctory #IWD tweet and jump on the bandwagon, without backing up their words with action. We have moved firmly into the age of being called out, and if your sentiments are not genuine, then best not to post at all.

Regular Twitterati may be familiar with the Gender Pay Gap Bot. This automated Twitter account has been extremely busy on 8th March these past few years. Whenever a company listed on the government’s gender pay gap service tweets key phrases related to International Women’s Day, the Bot is listening and automatically responds by posting the firm’s gender pay gap information.

Depending on what the figure is, the impact of this can of course go one of two ways, and many organisations have been left with egg on their face.

This highly effective call-out method is likely to evolve wherever DE&I (diversity, equity and inclusion) data can be linked. Equally, as we move tentatively towards a low-carbon economy and ESG (environmental, social and governance) rises ever higher on the national agenda, reporting requirements are likely to expand.

Will this make businesses a prime target for a nifty Bot? In years to come, businesses and their PR teams may need to think even more carefully about their environmental credentials before they post, lest they inadvertently point the ‘#greenwashing’ finger at themselves.

Of course, it should go without saying that corporate ESG and DE&I initiatives should not be solely fuelled by the PR benefits they could bring. We have written before about some pretty shocking statistics of UK businesses admitting to making false claims and exaggerating their green credentials.

These initiatives should form a genuine part of a business’ ‘purpose’ and – once there are actions and results to shout about – they can rightly offer a leg up on to the proverbial bandwagon, flags and hashtags a-waving.

Where does the B Corp movement fit into this? Well, you can’t become a B Corp without demonstrating a commitment to people and planet, and the ongoing work to sustain this. So, even if your business has done this purely for the opportunity to shout about it, it’s no bad thing. And may our B Corp community continue to grow and thrive.

As the minds behind the Gender Pay Gap Bot shout from their page – “Deeds not words. Stop posting platitudes. Start fixing the problem.