October 21, 2011—The #occupywallstreet movement cites a wide selection of grievances directed at a common target – corporate America. Unfair business practices and the resulting economic inequality have inspired thousands to take to the streets in hundreds of cities around the world. So how does corporate America respond? How do they at once acknowledge and answer these concerns while also discharging their responsibilities to shareholders and bottom lines? One simple answer is a reframing of the relations between those brands and their customers through a meaningful social contract.
Social contracts serve as an explicit articulation of the values-based agreement between brands and consumers to regulate the behavior of both parties as sustainable capitalism and shared prosperity is a mutual responsibility. With that in mind, here is the start of a Social Contract that can be customized by companies and crowdsourced among customers to reach an agreement that brands can use to start addressing the concerns of the #occuptwallstreet movement.
Sample Social Contract Between [insert Name of Your Brand] and Customers
We are seeking a new way of looking at the world we live in. We believe that a better future depends on the integration of profit and purpose. To that end, our company and its customers intend to become partners in social change to build a better world. This partnership is guided by this social contract between us. We agree that the following principles will direct our behavior and the relationship between us:
. We believe companies have a right to innovation, entrepreneurship and profit-making while citizens and our consumers have a right to a healthy society and planet for living.
. We recognize an interdependent, global community requires an expanded definition of self-interest that acknowledges the needs of all inhabitants of the planet.
. We define success through prosperity, which means the well-being of many, not the wealth of a few.
. We believe that future of profit is purpose. We will commit ourselves to working with our customers to create meaningful results that impact the world in positive ways.
. We believe that the interests of companies and consumers are best served through the sustainable practice of capitalism — economically, morally, ethically, environmentally, and socially.
. We believe that corporations and consumers owe each other an equal duty of transparent, authentic, and accountable communication.
. We believe that social technology, business, and shopping have the potential to change our world through new modes of engagement, collaboration, and contribution.
. We believe in the following values for our daily practice of capitalism: sustainability, fairness of rewards, fiscal responsibility, accountability, purposefulness, engagement, and global citizenship.
. We believe that corporations and consumers are duty-bound to serve as custodians of global well-being for this and all future generations.
. We believe that the private sector must cooperate, collaborate and coordinate with governments and NGOs to create a unified force for social good.
Simon Mainwaring is the founder of We First, a social branding consultancy that helps companies, non-profits and consumer groups build a better world through changes to the practice of capitalism, branding, and consumerism using social technology