Cause. Why so?


In this restless world with so many polarities – on the one hand corruption, injustice, environmental degradation, gratuitous violence; on the other collaboration, innovation, social technology, civic awareness – how can we be indifferent, as if life only goes on inside the walls of our home?

This perception also extends to the world of organizations, both NGOs and companies, which have become increasingly more involved in the social context, whether due to conviction or lack of choice, given that this is a growing demand of society itself: the consumer – citizen – opinion former.

In this context, it is important to differentiate legitimate engagement, which advocates causes that are relevant and suited to the purpose of these organizations, from what might appear like a kind of “conscience cleaning”.

This perspective was discussed emphatically this week by the former women’s policy minister, Nilcéia Freire, on a panel at the Women’s Forum meeting. When talking about women’s causes, Freire posed the following question: while this issue is addressed from a marketing approach, what company is going to take on the tough causes, the really complex and controversial causes?

When an organization decides to adopt a cause as a marketing strategy, just like deciding on a media investment or a product discount, it ends up putting a sign in a public square or sponsoring an event. Not that these actions are not important – and often necessary – but they will certainly not have the breadth and durability required to make the cause a force of engagement and mobilization.

It is another thing altogether when the cause connects with the very essence of the organization and is incorporated into its system of management, the way it operates and engages with its stakeholders, becoming part of its discourse, actions and intentions. By building a long-term outlook, the cause can be monitored just like any other performance indicator. And finally, it can create value. Value that can be shared and, therefore, that can reverberate.

This is the level of impact that we are talking about: of organizations playing a prominent role in the causes that will really transform society and, perhaps, transform themselves in the process.

Monica Gregori is a founding partner of Cause.