Guest post by Kori Reed, vice president, Cause & Foundation, ConAgra Foods
“Have courage and be kind.”
This is the mom wisdom from the 2015 Disney adaptation of the famous Cinderella story, and is, in essence, the theme of the movie.
As Washington Post Express film reporter Kristen Page-Kirby wrote, “What ‘Cinderella’ shows is that you can have courage, and you can be kind, and it might suck.” Those of us who work in corporate contributions or community engagement can relate.
After all, companies are made up of kind people – caring real-life mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, caregivers and more – and the entity as a whole is responsible for turning a profit for owners and investors. Our peers from finance and supply chain often don’t see our work on balanced scorecards, therefore, some of them struggle to see the strategy behind it. Yes, being kind and making friends on behalf of the company, while very rewarding, can suck for that reason.
Yet, much like our company peers, we are problem solvers on a regular basis. In our case, it’s solving problems in the community. While company project managers use the language of analyze, plan, do, check, our words include pilot testing, scaling ideas, off-setting labor costs via volunteerism, evidence-based interventions and pathways to prosperity.
So, how do we tackle an issue like poverty? Start with what works. Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, award winning journalists did just that in their most recent book, A Path Appears. It includes pages of evidence-based ways to create opportunity among our nation’s and world’s most vulnerable. It is a call to action for individuals, communities and corporations alike, to be courageous and show kindness by helping others. (If you coordinate volunteerism for the company, the later chapters even address the benefits of that work. Helping others really helps us too!)
They include the role of business in creating pathways, and for me, that hit the sweet-spot. At ConAgra Foods, we know so well how hunger at a young age can harm a child’s chances for future growth, both physically and mentally.
As a visual learner, I reached out to WuDunn to develop the map of a path, a kind of a Chutes and Ladders for Life. In corporate speak, think of this as a human process maps. I hope it shows how possible it is for us to be strategic as well as kind, and do our part to break the cycle of poverty, a large complex issue that so encumbers our society and societies around the world.
It is in our collective interest that people have the ability purchase the goods and services we offer. Here’s hoping this visual path gives people the courage to jump in and sparks an idea for how to be kind to others in a way that creates opportunity for all. Alignment toward a goal is what we business people do well. Walking a path again and again also helps others see it more clearly. Have courage, and be kind; start here.