It’s not uncommon to see professional-looking photos of a company’s board of directors on their website, all suited up smartly for the occasion. We can normally also find some sterile biography listing their incredible experience and we might even be treated to an explanation of the letters after their name. But mostly, these bios are meaningless to us, the average reader, and disconnected from our own realities.
If we’re shareholders, we might be asked to vote on the board we want to best represent our interests. But how do we know if the board shares our values?
Is there a reason why these biographies can’t be more, well, human?
Company directors have significant power to direct a company’s strategy and its impact, not just on shareholders and stock price but the impact it has on all of its stakeholders, including customers, employees, partners and the communities where the company does business. Some think narrowly, in terms of shareholder value. But some are more thoughtful and intentional, thinking beyond share price to a more holistic view of impact. Both profit and purpose.
Imagine our delight when we opened a recent email from one of our favorite brands, asking for our vote on board directors? Not only did REI include meaningful biographical information for each nominated director, but also posed a central question: “What does the [REI] co-op mean to you?” Through the answers we learned that one nominee believes REI’s work to protect public lands is an example of how “focusing on business and the environment together” can create sustainable change, from another that he is committed to ensuring access to nature for “diverse and underutilized communities” so REI can fulfill its “huge societal role.” We learned of their commitment to purpose and mission, to community and the entire outdoor industry …. including their competitors. Their answers were meaningful because they spoke to beliefs and aspirations, authentically and compellingly.
Of course, REI is the nation’s largest consumer cooperative … not a publicly traded company. But what could REI – who has earned a place on FORTUNE magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year since the rankings began WHILE building a profitable and growing business – teach other companies about connecting meaningfully though story? Quite a bit.
We follow companies like REI so we can leverage these insights and others to help our customers replicate the formula they follow to tell their meaningful story and become a brand that matters.
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