I came to SAP with 15 years of experience working with nonprofits and for profit enterprises on many community impact projects. I joined SAP's CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) team as a Nonprofit-in-residence bringing a unique perspective from the outside, in. SAP's CSR team is exceptional and works hard to balance company goals with community needs. For other CSR programs, this balance is not always a given and community impact can lose out. I attended the BCCC Conference in Austin, Texas last month expecting to hear this struggle to find balance, while sharing the success I had found at SAP. SAP CSR is a member of BCCC, a leadership organization gathering best practices on all thing CSR in the United States. While I was sure I was going to get a lot out of this conference, I didn't expect it to be quite like this.
When @CraytonWebb, the head of CSR for Mary Kay, stepped on stage to accept an award for the BCCCC annual film festival, I was ready to say "no". I was ready to artfully applaud a nice thing, but I was not going to pay attention. As a professional in community impact work, I have seen my share of corporate social campaigns that promise much, but often stop short. In this case, Mary Kay is not a product I use, and Clayton Webb embodies a full array of public persona affectations I readily mistrust, beginning his presentation by explaining to the audience how much of a "Texan" he actually is, even though he was born in Portland. (This made my eyes roll:)
It was a surprise then, when I returned from the conference to recount every detail of what he said to a colleague, with a sense of enthusiasm that prompted her to ask me if I had joined up and had trunk full of the stuff ready to sell from the parking lot.
Mary Kay was recognized for their Don't Look Away campaign and taking on the some-might-say tricky issue of domestic violence. Most impressively to me, the effort is also a bold advocate for survivors. Don't Look Away is part cause marking, part awareness, part education, and part boots-on-the-ground programming. And, it is all Corporate Social Responsibility.
Partnering with several domestic violence organizations, Mary Kay has developed a comprehensive strategy to help reduce violence against women. After seeing the presentation, I do not need a report or an evaluation to convince me that, that is exactly what is happening. It seems clear to me that there is less violence against women because of this work.
The most poignant moment in the presentation, was the piece of the project that deals with men's voices and participation in the issue. Webb relayed a cringe-worthy story about being at fraternity party in his youth, where he felt concern for a young woman's safety and said nothing. The air went out of the room, and truth hung out there long enough for me to understand how I related to it, that I cared about it, and that I was going to do what I could to curb it.
Whatever questions I had about the data (is it really one if four?) was sadly answered when informally discussing the campaign with another conference attendee who shared he was concerned his own daughter might be facing this. It was a personal moment. I was struck and felt embarrassed I might be dismissive of this issue over a lack of connection to the product or my own skepticism.
Ugh...one in four.
10 warning signs of an abusive relationship (from loveisrespect.org)
Checking your cell phone or email without permission