In his recent op-ed, my colleague Nigel Salter, CEO of Salterbaxter MSLGROUP, placed the onus on business to mend the gap it has with society. “Business needs to re-connect to society and its needs, deploying its amazing innovation and capacity to address global challenges and see these challenges for what they really are: a truly rare opportunity to rethink the relationship with stakeholders.”

Responsive and Responsible Leadership -- the 2017 theme of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos -- does indeed present brands and companies with tremendous opportunities to align their businesses to the needs of the global community where, according to the WEF, “more agile, inclusive and collaborative responses are urgently needed to address the complexity and uncertainty in people’s lives.”

We are seeing a wonderful example of this before our eyes.  A few years back, our client, P&G Always, began empowering young girls and women to remain confident, skilled and strong with its remarkable #LikeAGirl campaigns.   Since the initial campaign that turned an insult into empowering message, P&G has worked with organizations like UNESCO and Save the Children to address empowerment of young women and girls around the globe, truly rethinking the kind of meaningful relationships it can build in the world.

In a discussion held during the World Economic Forum in Davos, last Tuesday evening, “Changing the World of Refugee Girls through Education,” P&G talked about the importance of helping a lost generation of girls who are caught up in the world’s largest refugee crisis, by providing access to education and skills training, allowing them to be the masters of their own lives, despite their current environment and conditions. More than 1.26 million Syrian refugees are currently living in Jordan. 

This new initiative with UNESCO focuses on reaching young Syrian and Jordanian women, who have encountered significant challenges with continuing and completing basic education or pursuing training opportunities. The program provides these young, at-risk women with life-skills and work readiness training, while encouraging shared experiences and an open dialogue between Syrians and Jordanians. It is designed to help the young women develop business and vocational skills to realise their potential. 

The Always brand is also supporting a second program with Save the Children; which is focused on helping thousands of adolescent South African and Nigerian girls stay in school. This program provides homebound girls with life skills and educates their parents on the importance of supporting their daughters through puberty. The program also involves local community support through formal and non-formal education, either in local schools or home-school efforts.

Not only does the P&G initiative respond to a critical need in the world, it is also a case of corporate responsibility and global citizenship. 

Like P&G, other companies and brands need to listen and respond to the needs of the world’s citizens more than ever before.

At a time where opposing voices create a cacophony that’s often difficult to navigate, brands can begin by listening, looking and learning.  While social media and technology has shrunk the world in recent decades, the world has also grown in complexity, especially in reference to the growing gap between business and its stakeholders.

So, it is more important than ever that companies and brands engage a full range of thinking, reach across borders, political and philosophical divides to be both responsive and responsible, by lifting up people who are in need with important and holistic solutions.

Guillame ShoulderBy Guillaume Herbette

About Guillaume Herbette

Guillaume Herbette is the Global CEO of MSLGROUP.