During the past few months, I’ve been learning a lot about GenZ, which comprises those born between 1997-2015. This generation was shaped by the recession and is the most diverse and inclusive generation yet. They offer a lot of encouragement about the ongoing shifts in business to be more inclusive, transparent and environmentally aware. In a post to graduates, I encouraged these students to find and use their voice as purposeful leaders.
The same perhaps can be said for companies. It is apparent that many organizations are also looking for their voice. Whether it’s thought leadership, social justice or inclusivity, businesses are searching for ways to differentiate themselves, disrupt the marketplace and/or drive a more purposeful conversation.
As I suggested to graduates, it starts with a small voice in a few select areas, then it grows. Here are a few foundational ingredients to building a voice in the marketplace:
A passionate leader: In my experience, campaigns, thought-leadership programs and messaging directed from the top are consistently more successful. Leaders who bring passion, empathy and a genuine interest are more engaging, more compelling and more willing to prioritize the work. Authenticity matters; so it is also paramount that they understand and care about the issue they’re discussing.
Brand purpose: A company should also have an authentic brand purpose from which to build. Brand purpose combines why you exists with what differentiates you from others. More importantly, however, it aligns with your values. Your purpose can be used to define your position, give credibility to your perspective, and offer guidance for non-promotional subject matter.
Self-Awareness: Research is foundational for any campaign or program. It provides an awareness of what is happening around you. Before launching any type of content or thought-leadership program, arm yourself or your executives with good, credible information. This will allow you to speak from a place of knowledge, accuracy and most importantly, self-awareness.
It takes time, resources and a willingness to bring a new voice to the conversation. However, just as I am encouraged by the wave of graduates bringing a new voice to purposeful business, I am equally encouraged by businesses raising their voices to support social justice.