The world of marketing is about more than making profit. There are entire marketing divisions dedicated to corporate social responsibility.
In an exclusive interview, we spoke to Tyler Butler, an expert in corporate social responsibility. Her work in this area has led her to create, launch and grow programs for companies such as Microsoft, GoDaddy, Lyft, Universal technical Institute, WebPT and more. She is also a fashion zealot, community activist and kindness crusader who leverages her personal brand and network of influencers to make positive change possible. Through her firm, 11Eleven Consulting, Butler is supporting brands that make our world a better place. And through her column and blog, Giving In Style, she is showcasing the stories of people, organizations and businesses who are creating positive change with panache.
Here’s what Tyler has to say about giving, and how you, too, can pursue a career in corporate social responsibility.
What made you become so devoted to improving society? How did you end up where you are now?
My first introduction to philanthropy was through my parents. Both of them volunteered for youth sports leagues and also raised funds for causes associated with education and athletics. They set a tone in my life with regards to giving back and paying it forward. My childhood was spent moving frequently as I was brought up in a gypsy nomad like family, moving each time my parents’ government construction firm landed a new contract. Regardless of where we called home though, my family was always supporting the communities where we lived.
Finally settling in Arizona, I attended Arizona State University where I received my Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a master’s certificate from the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation. Ultimately, I participated in a hybrid learning program earning my Master’s degree from the Boston College, Wallace E. Carroll Graduate School with a focus on Corporate Citizenship Management.
My first entrepreneurial endeavor took place immediately after graduation from ASU. I was a founder of the weekly publication College Times where I was integral in developing the brand, marketing and advertising that drove this magazine to success. Shortly after liquidating my piece of this business I decided that I wanted to transition my career towards a focus on helping others. I quickly moved into leadership roles with organizations such as Easter Seals and The Arizona Humane Society. My efforts directing events and media were essential to bringing iconic occasions such as Sunset on the Beach, Compassion with Fashion and The Annual Pet Telethon to another level.
It was during this time that I noticed the emerging focus on strategic, considerate corporate giving and I realized that this type of role would undoubtedly combine all my experience and talents, making for the perfect next frontier for my career. I then returned to ASU to study at the Lodestar Center and at the same time landed a job serving as a leader for Microsoft’s community outreach efforts. The launch of the world’s first ever Microsoft store, coincidentally located in Scottsdale Fashion Square, was the catalyst for the work I would lead for this mega tech company. Together with the Microsoft enterprise team and the retail store team we created a program that combined all team members to collaboratively aid the communities where the stores were located. This endeavor was called One Microsoft. The formula developed was mimicked in countless markets and I was responsible for training many of these community outreach professionals to replicate the efforts I was able to design.
Despite my love for this role and the people I worked with at Microsoft, when GoDaddy Cares leader Renee Parsons recruited me to take on the global efforts for the Arizona based web hosting giant, I could not refuse. I transitioned over to GoDaddy where I was solely responsible for producing all the charity based efforts shared by GoDaddy. My work was crucial in reshaping the companies public perception.
Additionally, the programs I created and launched enabled GoDaddy to make Fortune’s 100 Best Places to work list among many other esteemed accolades.
More recently, I founded my own consulting firm, 11Eleven, which is a boutique corporate social responsibility consulting firm focused on aiding companies that care. I am also the society and fashion contributor for Frontdoors media; my column and blog, Giving in Style, is a valley favorite and is gaining national acclaim and recognition.
You are the Founder and Principal of 11Eleven Consulting, “a consulting firm that incorporates visionary principles, diverse perspectives and sustainable practices to create programs that benefit society and build positive sentiment for brands.” How exactly does this play out when devising consulting strategies for brands? What brands do you work with?
I am always quick to advise that there is no one set model for companies to give back. Each business has a unique culture, talent pool, resources and opportunities to make a positive difference. This is where my firm comes into play. At 11Eleven we carefully create a strategy to successfully launch, cultivate and grow a company’s philanthropic efforts into a point of pride.
Through 11Eleven, I have led a team to impact positive change and awareness for campaigns engaging the entire transportation industry including companies like UTI, Nissan, Bridgestone, Shell and more. 11Eleven has also been instrumental in elevating Lyft’s community fundraising efforts, Xtreme Canteen’s Round up campaigns and community outreach efforts for 2017 top HR tech startup, HR Company Store. Most recently I have partnered with Fearless Art Works on a campaign, The Art of Fearlessly Giving Back, which is sharing the stories behind the giving efforts of WebPT.
My business is a place where good corporate citizens are our game and we aim to create, launch and shed light on the positive contributions businesses are making in the communities where they operate. We take on the discovery process and assess what each client’s company does, how they do it, who they employ and who they serve as customers and we then create unique offerings that will elevate their profile publicly, engage employees, add to their brand and foster a strong company culture. Positive sentiment is built through these altruistic programs, which improves businesses in a myriad of ways. Through the creation of 11Eleven many more businesses have the knowledge and means to create corporate responsibility programs that matter.
When meeting with each of these vastly different clients my team explores all aspects of their business. We deep dive into their vision, products, services and culture. We meet with various stakeholders throughout the company including the C-suite executives and support staff from all areas of the company. Our goal is to accurately gauge what programs will fit within their company best and how and who will be needed to ensure that they are successful. Our firm can train a staff member to own these programs and manage the tools that accompany them into place, or as we recommend, we can manage these endeavors or help you find a full time corporate responsibility practitioner to continue cultivating these efforts.
Based on your experience, what are the key aspects that a brand should follow to make an impact on society?
People and society are demanding greater visibility from the brands that they are loyal to. My firms’ focus on aiding companies, who wish to do well by doing good, represents an emerging driver in today’s market. My business focus’s on creating a streamlined approach to easily launch and confidently grow corporate responsibility efforts for the growing number of company’s seeing the value in responsibly running their businesses. In an ever changing world, the emergence of company’s looking to be good corporate citizens is more prevalent than ever.
Business’s need to be hyper aware that the public is savvy enough to know the difference between authentic efforts put forth to aid society and nonsense that company’s churn out to make themselves seem engaged. This is why it is crucial that a thoughtful approach be taken when developing a corporate social responsibility strategy. It is important that the programs are representative of the company, the people who work there and whatever service or product that they represent.
Beyond the planning phases it becomes essential to capture data about the programs that your company does put into place. This goes beyond just volunteer numbers or funds donated as it will be critical to capture stories that represent how your business’s efforts have positively impacted the community. These stories will become the cornerstone of your annual report and will drive greater engagement internally and ideally generate greater brand awareness externally.
What are the immediate and long term rewards for a brand that gives back to society?
CSR is a business imperative. In today’s marketplace, companies have to do more than just produce a top-quality product and provide world class customer service to be the best. Businesses and the brands they represent have to take action and share their stories about how they are making the world a better place for their employees, the environment and the communities where they operate.
Customers yearn for much more than transactional relationships; they seek a deeper connection with a truly significant experience. Employees, now more than ever look for purpose in their work and an authentic, caring company culture, they want to believe in what they do each day. And companies look for cooperative, transparent partnerships where they feel confident in what their business stands for.
Organizations that speak to this change by enhancing brand expectations increase their customer’s allegiance, build positive rapport, and eventually strengthen business and make positive change possible.
How companies benefit from CSR
- Improves public image
- Increases media coverage
- Boosts employee engagement
- Attracts and retains investors and talent
- It is a competitive advantage
What case or cases can you share with us of philanthropic endeavors of brands, that are a good example of what a brand should do to make a difference?
One of my favorite examples of a brand that is giving back in not only meaningful ways, but also in innovative ways is OneHope Wine. This business not only blends some of the most flavorful and festive offerings, but they also pair each product with a cause of choice. Through their unique social enterprise they have made positive progress for humanity possible. Each product at OneHope is connected to a cause area and customers are easily educated on what impact their purchase will have on society. This organization is making the world a better place through beautifully crafted products and experiences and bringing people together to celebrate and serve the world!
Another company with a similar model, but completely different product offering is the Feed Project. This apparel line is represented by spokesperson Lauren Bush, giving the brand some validity from the jump. And much like OneHope, each purchase made at Feed Project is tied to giving back. The Feed Project has a more tailored approach though as they are hyper focused on feeding children in need. So with each purchase made from their business they clearly notate how many meals your purchase will ensure are distributed to hungry kiddos. Proving that at the Feed Project they give more than just meals, they give love to so many in need.