Cooperate with activists as your existence depends on them, because it does! A lesson to learn from Amazon vs Activist in NY

Smart businesses are kind to activist! A lesson to learn from Amazon vs Activist in NY

For a long, I have been saying that the economy and businesses have the most important role in changing and shaping a society.  They invest millions of dollars to convince us what products to buy, how to dress, how to live our lives, and even when people start “do-it-yourself” movement, the businesses sell us ready-made “DIY” kits. Odd, hu?!

Beside individual lifestyle, business influence governments. They sponsor politicians and lobby for certain parties.

What I am mostly interested in is how companies are now being influenced and impacted by the rights activists.

When Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi was killed by direct order of the Saudi authorities, many giant businesses and companies showed their disapproval by withdrawing from the Saudi 2030 summit. After years of effort to convince businesses to prioritize rights over benefits, some changes are being made. Companies are coming to realize that if they want to make good money, they need to support and protect people from the governments with human rights violations such as Saudi Arabia.

And now, Amazon’s decision to abandon its plans to build a new campus in New York is another powerful presentation of the influence of activists on businesses. Although building HQ2 in NY was favorable for many New Yorkers and political leaders, activists were able to pressure enough to make the Amazon feel unwelcomed. Although the financial benefit of the Amazon HQ2 would be great for NY as it would be home to some 25,000 workers and would have brought $27.5 billion in tax revenue over the next 25 years, activists were able to scare the company and let Amazon and politicians know that even that economic gain is “no longer worth the trouble” as the Business Insider stated. . They questioned the fairness of giving up to $3 billion in tax breaks to a wealthy corporation and the fact that the deal was negotiated behind closed doors.

I do not want to dismiss the fact that Amazon HQ2 would benefit many residents of the area but my goal here is to emphasize on the fact that finally, we might be entering an era when activists voice is being heard loud and clear.

As a mental health professional and as a human rights activist who is also much interested in how behavior and businesses influence each other, I see an important lesson for companies here: cooperate with activists as your existence depends on them; because it does!

Here are some smart ideas on how to make activists happy, so they don’t F* your revenue. In fact, these ideas will generate lots of money for your business.

1- Adopt a cause marketing strategy, I have an article on that, click here if you want to know more

2- Get involved in social reforms: stand up for minorities, close pay gaps between genders, have open door policies etc.

3- Become environment-friendly: recycle, be nice to animals, cut pollution and energy waste, or at least, start believing that global warming a real thing!

4- Using recycled materials is a great start in becoming environmentally friendly, but please stop ripping off consumers:  There are many examples of companies that have started to use recycled materials, and that is great. Interestingly, and sadly, recycled items are not necessarily economically beneficial to consumers. Companies proudly state that “this business card was made using #% recycled material” and similar messages on their products yet and they sell such products for a higher price. What a rip-off! Although recycling is a new movement and sure it is a costly procedure,  it definitely cuts the cost of materials! So how about reducing prices instead of showing off by saying you reuse the materials people have already paid for once!

5-  Actually recycle at your offices!

The amount of paper and supply waste at offices and businesses is beyond any imagination. If you recycle, you can actually be proud of even “wasting more”. Because the more you waste, the more recycling material you produce, Funny hu? So how about recycle and maybe once in a while sponsor a community recycling event?

H&M has come up with a great idea that cuts cost of making clothes, transforms advocates to consumers and so much more. If you are an H&M customer, you know they barely ever have coupons. However, if you take five pieces of old clothes, bed sheets, or anything made of fabric to them,  they give out %15 off coupons. Long story short, they get your old unwanted clothes, encourage you to spend money while you are thereby giving you coupons then recycle your very own stuff to make new ones ready to be purchased. Smart!

6- Train your employees to be more caring! It pays back big time.

Starbucks is paying its employees to spend time volunteering.  What a smart move! The company actually is training its employee to be more caring and have a positive impact on society without having to worry about making money. This not only creates sense of purpose, but it also helps the mental health and self-worth of Starbucks employees. Not to forget that this “humane” strategy is also is great for business!

It’s more like sending advocates to advertise for “the great company that they work for” into the community. It acts like one on one referral without paying a penny to advertisement companies.

7- Be nice to school staff! All the PTA people too: they are raising your future customers!

Not long ago, I promised a bunch of students at the weekend school I run to take them out for breakfast. However, as usual, money was tight. I didn’t want to cancel the plan. I contacted a local Dunkin Donuts to see if they can give the school a discount. The manager was awfully mean and not cooperative. So I called a different location and this one was super kind. She shared that she can advocate for us to get some donation and by exchanging a couple of emails, her location sponsored a class of 20 students for breakfast. Although the act did not cost much to the company, it guaranteed 20 families and number of staff as regular customers. I actually drive a mile farther to make sure I shop at that location instead of going to my local Dunkin Donuts. What an impact.

Finally, keep in mind, activists are not your enemies. They just want you to be more human when you plan to take people’s money and control their lives. I predict a future when activist become a great asset to businesses, so start being considerate to their voice NOW.

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