If you want to engage your workforce, social incentives are becoming as important as commercial ones, particularly for younger employees.
That was one the key ideas that emerged from the first London-based +SocialGood conference, which took place at the end of March.
It was a conference about technology and social good, focusing on online engagement and not on the technical perspective of social media and marketing. The big question was, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”
During the day we heard the question: What are the biggest problems in society and what can we do to solve them? What came across was that, even though it’s easy to feel overwhelmed about problems in the world, increasingly people want to do something to improve the world and not blame non-social action on someone else.
Global Tolerance is a social business that empowers organisations to find, live and engage others in their values. CEO Rosie Warin shared her thoughts about values and the #ValuesRevolution.
“I have seen a shift in the last five years; people are rethinking and are leaving high-status jobs in organisations because the organisations they work for aren’t delivering enough social and environmental change.”
Research by Global Tolerance showed that 36% of employees would work harder if their organisations did more for society. The research also showed that 61% of the millennial generation only want to work for organisations doing social good.
“If your organisation is not involved in doing social good, your talent pool is limited,” Warin argued.
Niall Dunne, Chief Sustainability Officer at BT, talked about how Unilever climbed to be top three in the ‘100 Most InDemand Employers 2014’ on LinkedIn.
“It’s all about their commitment to sustainability,” he said. And he pointed to what the company does on its LinkedIn page where there are updates about doing social good and working in partnerships. In the last few years the most in-demand employers on LinkedIn (as in many other surveys) have been the large technology companies.
Aaron Sherinian, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at the United Nations Foundation, touched on the crucial skill of being a digital native citizen.
“It’s not about new technology, it’s about new ways of engagement,” he said. With a world population of over 7bn of whom 43% are under 25 years old, the power is shifting. “When more people than ever have access to social media you can't tell people what story they should tell. They tell it themselves.”
BT’s CEO Gavin Patterson also emphasised the need to use the power of communication to create a better world in his opening keynote. One of the hurdles of doing social good with the help of technology is digital illiteracy, he said.
“Tech literacy is an essential building block for kids getting the best out of their lives. Being tech literate also means being fluent in tech thinking.”
BT has launched an initiative that is aiming at improving the technical literacy of young people in the UK: “We want young people to be confident with ‘computational thinking’, and aware of how technology and data are the foundations of today’s society,” Patterson said. If we can achieve this, we believe that it will benefit both young people and our economy.”
To achieve this BT will fund workshops for another 1,000 schools and 6,000 primary school teachers this academic year.
Many other businesses are starting new initiatives to teach digital literacy on a broader scale. Digitally illiterate customers won’t be able to use many services without basic digital knowledge. And this is not just a problem for the older generations; everyone, young and old, needs to improve their basic skills and what our digital habits mean to us.
Belinda Parmar is the founder of Little Miss Geek, an initiative aiming to get more young women into technology. “Technology has an image problem,” she told the audience. She said a teenage girl once told her she'd “rather be a garbage collector than work in technology.” Currently only 17% of the UK tech workforce is female and it’s been dropping every year over the last ten years. Little Miss Geek ran after-school tech clubs sponsored by Bank of America at several girls state schools in London and increased the number of girls taking computer science at GCSE by 52%
The Power Of Partnership
Kate Lucey, Digital Editor at Cosmopolitan.co.uk focused on the increasing difficulty of being heard online.
“Powerful partnerships are a way to cut through the noise,” she said. “Cosmos priorities have been focusing on three main partners this year: one charity fighting eating disorder, the election the UK this year to encourage more young people to vote, and victims of forced marriage and honour killing.“
One of the final interviews of the day was with Christopher Reardon, who writes stories about refugees for UNHCR. The organisation wants to give a voice to people who have left everything behind. There is a trend for long emotional stories being shared online. Organisations that want to be heard are taking storytelling more seriously than ever.
“Many people suffer from psychic fatigue and can’t take in more information,” Reardon said. When we are in this state of mind, powerful stories are one way to open peoples’ minds. This is a good learning point for anyone sharing content online.
To be heard online you need to cut through the noise in social media with the help of content and technology. What works are great partnerships, emotional content, bigger stories and great storytelling.
Watch the live stream from +SocialGood conference.