The last year has seen an increased profile for activism of all types. Sometimes this has manifested against the practices of corporations (such as the ongoing Occupy movement) while at others the targets are governments, as with the Arab Spring and Wikipedia’s online protest against proposed US anti-piracy legislation.
GlobeScan and SustainAbility recently polled an international panel of experts in sustainability on what they considered the most effective activist tactics to be. As the chart above shows, the panel (drawn from businesses, NGOs, government and academia) rated tactics that focus on key business value drivers as the most effective in influencing corporate behaviour: product boycotts (or on the flip-side, preferential purchasing) for their impact on sales and shareholder activism for its effect on access to capital. The most confrontational tactic – civil disobedience – is seen as the least effective by some distance, while the more collaborative method of dialogue with companies is rated the second-least effective.
With experts also rating socially responsible investors – a group in a particularly strong position to shape companies’ business value drivers – as the most important audience for businesses and government to pay attention to, the pressure on companies to respond to different agendas as they move towards sustainability looks likely to increase.
Finding from The 2011 GlobeScan/SustainAbility Survey