Speaking on day three of Lions Live, Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer, Procter and Gamble, spoke about how the last 100 days have proved that companies have to reinvent themselves and step up.
He said, “The twin pandemics of racism and Covid-19 have disrupted the role of companies in the world forever. It clearly proves that we have to reinvent ourselves. We have to move from brands and companies that are all about themselves that have to step up for the force of growth and the force of good.”
Pritchard spoke about how he first felt about the force of doing good.
“This journey started about 20 years ago at a retreat in the Colorado Mountains with my family. A spiritual leader came up to me and said I hope you realise the difference you can make because you're in business which will someday be the biggest force for good in the future. If you choose to do so, you can do a lot of good. It was a moment of clarity, particularly when I looked at my three young daughters. Fast forward to 1 January 2020. A start of a new year, a new decade with possibilities everywhere. But I felt unsettled, uncertain and even anxious,” he said.
The feeling soon of unsettled turned to certainty and anxiety turned to resolve on 11 March.
“On 11 March, our chief communications officer, Damon Jones told me that we had to announce that P&G employees will be working from home until further notice because of Covid-19. We had watched our colleagues in Asia and Europe deal with the virus and now it hit home. The mission was clear - step up as a force for good,” he said.
That’s when the company established three priorities.
1: Protect P&G people - nothing is more important than them.
2: Serve people around the world with our essential health hygiene and cleaning products
3: Support communities in need however possible.
Pritchard labelled these priorities as ones that weren't unique to P&G but was a shared human experience.
“We reviewed everything we could. We created ‘how to’ content such as sanitising surfaces, shaving for a better mask fit, skincare after wearing a mask the full day, using less to avoid running out. We offered free laundry services for frontline responders. The focus was how to help because being a force of good is about being useful,” said the chief brand officer.
He also spoke about how a crisis like Covid reveals more cracks in the society.
He said, “During pandemic disasters - equality takes a step back and people who are most discriminated against suffer more. We can't let this inequality widen. Gender inequality has to be addressed too. It's happened before. Women have had more jobs lost, faced pay cuts, were given more responsibilities at home. It's time to step forward as equals.”
He also stated how P&G is looking to step up and make a difference for other hard hit communities.
He then spoke about how the company is looking to make a difference to the community that continues to suffer the most.
He explained, “A virus doesn't discriminate but circumstances do. African Americans are up to 340 per cent more likely to lose their jobs. P&G is helping where it's needed most today. The brutal reality of racism can no longer be ignored. The country was hit by rage, grief and anguish. In hundreds of cities around the world there has been a creative awakening. Racism has been around and exists everywhere but cannot continue. I've never been more determined and inspired to change this. I'm inspired by the black community who have faced way too much for way too long. I know all of you want to help and I'll share actions what P&G is doing.”
1: We want 40 per cent multi-colour representation within P&G in the US to begin with. We're making progress but nowhere near where we need to be.
2: We are restructuring buying systems and making investments, working directly with black owned systems.
3: Conducting a review that all of our advertising content shows black people and all people in a respectable manner. We started this. Advertising effects perceptions. And we have to eliminate bias.
4: Initiated a comprehensive review of media channels, networks and platforms - we don't want to advertise during or near content that is hateful or discriminatory. We are working with media providers to take appropriate action. We could stop spending again just like we did before. There are thousands of digital sites where we don't advertise because it doesn't meet our standards. We fully support freedom of expression but as an advertiser, content and media matter.
He ended his talk by stating that the company has made progress but is still not where they need to be and gave out an invitation to the industry to follow these actions for an equal industry and world.