While flying home from the W2O 2014 Planning Session held in Austin this week, I was captivated by a story in USA Today about an organized march of low-paid workers across the country to rise up in a public cry for fair wages. At least 58 cities experienced a worker walkout Thursday to picket fast-food chain restaurants, calling for $15-an-hour pay and a right to form a union without fear of retaliation. This demonstration punctuates a disturbing trend toward low-wage jobs dominating employment growth. With federal minimum wage at $7.25 and President Obama’s proposed increase to $9 per hour stalled in Congress, I can’t help but ask… Why?
These workers had a clear sense of why in pushing to narrow the chasm of economic disparity that divides the upper and lower class. Pushing back against the standard $7.25 an hour paid to work only to live in poverty while employer’s corporate profits are skyrocketing. I silently cheer them on as I reflect on the multitude of ways we can disrupt the status quo. And that’s what W2O Group is all about.
WCG, Twist, BrewLife and NextWorks presented comprehensive plans in Austin to disrupt the status quo by innovating software, analytics, content, and communications. We aren’t content with the norm and strive to meet customer challenges with new solutions. Over the course of three days, we heard numerous presentations outlining smarter and more efficient practice areas, revenue streams, products in development, methodologies in action – we have all the tools we need to do great work for our clients in 2014 — and the collective commitment to teamwork and integration to take our work to a new level of excellence.
The recurring theme of corporate social responsibility (CSR) – a discipline toward helping companies create and lead movements toward a greater good – inspired me the most. Former CEO of Chiron, Edward Penhoet, used to say, “We do well by doing good,” and backed that statement up with numerous philanthropic initiatives that served patients and our local communities. His philosophical mindset was a good match for Novartis, who acquired the company in 2005, and a year later launched a CSR effort to provide essential medicines and health services to 42 million people in 33,000 rural villages in India through a social business model. The effort proved hugely beneficial from a social and business standpoint, and became profitable after 31 months, more quickly than anticipated. Novartis mobilized change against the status quo with a strong sense of “why” that empowered employees and communities alike.
As we look for ways to change the status quo, we should ask ourselves how can we “do well by doing good”? We can help clients identify opportunities to spearhead initiatives that promote positive change toward mission-critical issues like clean air, education and access to healthcare. We can explore opportunities to align client’s business objectives with “good” in every marketing campaign, every content capsule, and every digital development project. Their stories will be better and will resonate more soundly with stakeholders if they are in the context of something that truly matters.
Championing a movement requires only two things, cause and community. We have a brilliant community at W2O, and clients with unique platforms to drive change toward causes that help people and the planet. Just think of those who will march for fairness and the right to earn a living wage. Each one of us is in a position of power to help disrupt the status quo. I’ve found my “why” at W2O. Have you?