Companies with Deep-Connect value

Co-op Grocer Building Anti-Racist Communities

From Seward Co-op Scorecard 2019;

In the past ten years there has been a trend, growing from a small base, amongst co-op grocers to generate competitive advantages out of transformative forces leading to an anti-racist society. The co-op grocers offer wide-ranging benefits going well beyond food which involve addressing affordability, usability, sustainability and diversity issues, thereby engaging in community-building for a progressive future.

An example is Seward Co-op in Minneapolis. In 2013 they decided to open a second store in the minority-majority Bryant neighborhood which was underserved in groceries. The second store opened in 2016, leading to a total market positioning as follows.

Business paradigm of co-op, sustainability and diversity

The business paradigm is rooted in the traditional principles of the cooperative economy: members are owners with voting rights and discounts, personnel are trained in co-op ideals, and “intentional sourcing” prioritizes suppliers embodying the ideals of healthy, low-cost food. The co-op traditions have been modernized to include sustainability: 80 % of waste is recycled; local and organic products are sourced to minimize to the environmental impact; bulk quantities are promoted and money is given back to shoppers using reusable bags. The paradigm has been further updated to include diversity in the personnel.

Network of benefits and stakeholders

Seward’s offers make up a network of benefits, connected in their essence. Alongside the high-quality food offering throughout the product range, “Staples” signs in the shop highlight basic inexpensive healthy food, classes inform about how to shop on a budget and recipes are shown for healthy meals costing less than $10 for a family of four. Additionally for low-income customers, the Nourish program gives discounts on daily purchases. Furthermore, the«Community Foods» own-label promotes into the mainstream of the co-op’s product range a set of products fromthose producers that best align with the cooperative values and mission to sustain a healthy economy. Priority is given to BIPOC producers. Finally, Seward also promotes alternative transportation to and from the store via privileged parking for participants in car- and bike-sharing programs as well as price discounts for bicyclists.

The co-op promotes relationships with stakeholders inside and outside the store, such that it is present in the minds of the stakeholders, who then are “naturally” drawn to the two stores to shop. Personnel are recruited from the neighborhood, including a partnership with an employment agency that works with dislocated, low-income, welfare-transition and new immigrant workers. Thus a relatively high proportion of employees have multi-lingual skills and minority backgrounds. The co-op raises money for customer seed donations to the local community and itself finances grants and scholarships to locals. The stores serve as locations for community meetings. Even before the second store in Bryant opened, the co-op engaged in dialog with multiple community-based organizations, even before the new store opened. To keep the dialog alive, Seward has a full-time community education coordinator.

Unique offers create loyalty and convergence

The network of interconnected benefits as well as the active stakeholder relations create value that is not available in other stores, binding customers to the store. These distinctive offers are supplemented by further elements giving Seward an exclusive market position, setting it apart from other grocers. The company complied with customer requests for employees in the Bryant store “who look like us.” A Black employee living in the neighborhood reported that her neighbors come in the store and say to her “I’ve never been to a co-op before” or “I would never have come to a place like this.” In addition, the co-op is unusually open to direct customer feedback to individual products: in 2019 there were 629 product changes resulting from customer requests. Customers perceive the uniqueness of the Seward stores and see little reason to shop elsewhere.

The Seward Co-op represents a convergence between the three strands of first, those promoting self-ownership coupled with inexpensive basic nutrition, as is traditional to the co-op movement, second, those working for sustainability and third, those working for food justice in the form of diversity and inclusion for personnel and customers. The co-op’s activist anti-racist stance is underlined by murals placed on the stores created by local, BIPOC-led artist groups. The murals support the community in metabolizing trauma in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, particularly important to the city of Minneapolis. The co-op facilitates a stakeholder dialog on what it means to commit to Black liberation as a co-op community, for which gatherings are organized. Additionally, resources are made available for people to create art and signs which can be hung at home or carried on demonstrations.

Building communities generates business success

Thus, Seward undertakes much in and around the two stores to build stakeholder communities of customer-owners, personnel, suppliers, community groups and others who think this way. Doing good for these communities also generates business success. Indeed, advantageous benefits are in fact offered to People of All Colors, promoting the transformation to a sustainable economy and an anti-racist society. 

Companies with Deep-Connect value

P&G Aims at Transformation

Procter and Gamble undertakes a large number of activities which aim at transforming society in a progressive direction. Selected initiatives are summarized in this post.

The firm has broadened its objectives well beyond financial values. The goals in the Ambition 2030 enable and inspire positive impact on the environment and society while creating value for the firm and the consumer. Social and environmental responsibility is an integral component of every brand. P&G wants to be a force for good and a force for growth. The firm believes that the more it can integrate and build Citizenship into how it does business, the bigger the impact P&G can have on the people it serves, the communities where these people live and work and the broader world. In turn, this helps the firm to grow and build its business.

Broadly speaking, P&G is making meaningful connections in two ways. First, it works closely together with numerous business, not-for-profit and state organisations to raise the sustainability of its own operations. It also connects with such organisations to improve the sustainability balance of the suppliers and the end consumers of its products and packaging, which will have a far greater impact. Second, it has run numerous internal and external campaigns to address societal issues and steer towards a society where all can fully participate. For example, P&G aspires to a world which is free of gender bias. The marketing campaign #LikeAGirl challenges the demeaning stereotypes of ineffectual girls associated with this slogan, presenting images of resolute and forceful girls. The campaign #NOCOMPETITION showcases top female athletes who advocate eliminating toxic competition in beauty amongst women.

Such P&G marketing campaigns “sell themselves”, as it were, in the sense that the campaigns attract attention and are referenced and shown in other media by journalists, influencers and private individuals. For example, the advertisements “The Look”, “The Talk” and “The Choice” inspire people of all colors from around the world to take action against racism. The many articles and posts about the ads have raised their impact, stimulating a community of like-minded people who support an active engagement in anti-racism.

Initiatives which are more closely tied to the consumption of P&G products capture the minds of the targeted customers to change social behaviours for the better. For example, in Africa many girls who have entered puberty stay home from school on those days when they have their period due to shyness and insecurity. The Always brand of tampons ran a campaign to encourage confidence, a sense of personal care and self-security via use of the product. The rates of school absence among girls were lowered. In India, 70% of children believe it’s a woman’s responsibility to do the laundry. The Ariel brand of washing powder updated its #ShareTheLoad campaign with a new film that asks, “Isn’t it time we change the way we raise our sons and teach them what we teach our daughters?” Since the beginning of the campaign, the percentage of Indian men who think “household chores are a woman’s job” dropped from 79% to 52%.

P&G looks to grow by, among other things, a convergence in the methods of combating social issues. For example, 1.3 billion people in the world have some kind of disability. P&G implements overlapping methods to assist them in their everyday. Inclusive design is a technique in product development to ensure that products are accessible to as many people as possible, e.g. even those with arthritis can open the package and even those in a wheelchair can use the product. Training programs help disabled people to function in the workplace; more crucially, training programs are also developed to help those working with disabled people to understand how they can best behave to optimize the teamwork. P&G promotes the free Be My Eyes app, which brings sight to people with low or no vision. The app establishes a live video connection between the visually disabled and sighted volunteers. The volunteers can help with many everyday challenges, from checking expiry dates to finding lost items. 

For P&G, serving five billion people gives the brands the unique opportunity to delight consumers through superior product performance and spark conversations, influence attitudes, change behaviors and drive positive impact on society and the environment. The firm intends for each brand to define a commitment to help solve a societal challenge in which the brand is uniquely and meaningfully able to contribute.