Corporate Social Responsibility. It can be a bit of a dirty phrase, don’t you think? For some, it smacks of a ‘get out of jail free’ card. A company can do what they like and because they have a Corporate Social Responsibility policy, they can claim to be morally sound. It’s like that old adage from Puritan days gone by of the “Love God, do what you want”. Sounds too good to be true, and that is because it is. If you read between the lines, the catch is simple: if you love God, then your actions will be reflective of that love. Now I know what you’re thinking: How can we bring millennia of theology back round to contemporary business practice? With a willing suspension of belief, it’s not so hard. In today’s connected society, with information flowing more freely and transparently then ever before, a company will find any of its unethical behaviour put under the consumer microscope. We can ill afford to be flippant about what we say we stand for, we must now deliver it too.
As communications firms, we always ask our clients: what is your brand truth? What is it that you ‘do’ that consumers don’t necessarily know about that marks you out from the competition? Why is it then, that the same does not apply to us? Ask an advertising agency about their brand truth, and they might give you a wonderful set of stock phrase – ‘joes’ advertising puts the square pegs in the round holes’. Sounds good, but does that say anything tangible? Not so much. It’s an ethos, not an action. It’s not what you ‘do’ to benefit your clients and their business. You aren’t offering them opportunities, simply services. As a creative industry, we have the opportunity to put the formidable talents of our industry to the fore to enact change, and help our clients do the same.
One Young World is Havas and the Euro RSCG Worldwide communication network’s action. A network saying we have creativity at our core, and using it to give the space to those that require it. Young people are constantly shaping the future, One Young World is giving them the space in which to do it together, face to face and with the important global perspective. We ask our clients to stand for something, and One Young World makes us do the same.
But what’s actually in it for companies and brands? Thousands are spent each year on Market Research, both quantatively and qualitatively. Well, One Young World is the ultimate qualitative research: 1,500 young people, proportionally representative of the world’s population debating vital contemporary issues and commiting to their solutions. This is not about ‘brands’, this is about how the world should look according to us, the generation inheriting it.
Chosen through recommendations from the world’s leading organisations, corporations, charities and the sheer chutzpah of the individual, they all want to put themselves into this space and share their voice. A company can send their best delegates, find out what the new owners of tomorrow want, and pledge to act on it. They can return the next year to the One Young World Summit with results. It won’t tell you if a current campaign is ‘working’ but it will tell you what this next generation that should be engaging in a relationship with your company expects of that relationship. Whether you listen to those expectations or not is your call, but you have the opportunity to start that vital dialogue, and more importantly, to listen.
In terms of HR, what better way to invest in your young people then to send them to a summit of passionate, active young citizens from around the world, hosted by passionate, global leaders? We spend thousands on attending seminars and courses that won’t put us in as good stead to take on global business in the future. (Not that we MIND going!)
It’s an exciting time for One Young World with new brands, countries, philanthropists and individuals signing on every day. The coming months will only get more so as One Young World starts approving its delegates and booking them on that Midnight plane to London for 8th February 2010.