Telling human stories for CSR and sustainability: Anglo American and the fight against HIV

The strategy of using corporate storytelling (see our webinar for more information) has seen companies look within to find the people in their business whose stories can better illustrate their operations and culture. Audiences have been shown to engage more with a human story than a theoretical approach to company policies, an approach that supports the idea of ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’.

Storytelling can also be used to leverage a company’s CSR or sustainability policies. Focusing on those who are involved in initiatives and individuals whose lives have been improved by policies can demonstrate the care that a company exercises on projects and partnerships. Effective storytelling can also elevate issues beyond the company level to reach a wider audience and in doing so demonstrate a company’s role as an ambassador for an issue.

Anglo American has recently launched a digital HIV/AIDS campaign ahead of the International AIDS conference taking place in Durban in July 2016. The company has operations across South Africa, where HIV and AIDS have a devastating effect on communities. In the care of its staff and their families, Anglo American offers antiretroviral drugs free of charge as part of its ethical policies. But instead of stating this as part of a wider CSR strategy, the company has gone further, creating a bespoke social media campaign and website page focused on its partnership with the UN and the aim of freeing future generations from the threat of HIV and AIDS.

Stories on the website feature those who have been part of the initiative, including staff involved in the work on the ground, those from local communities affected by AIDS and doctors who are engaging with treating those with the disease.

Storytelling example from Anglo American's website

Using video, infographics and images the page helps to highlight wider issues as well, such as the relationship between AIDS and TB. We also get to see Anglo American’s dedication to the issue, notably how engaged employees are with the issue.

More than just reading about Anglo’s policies, through the stories presented on the website users get a better understanding of the issues associated with this disease and are compelled to share material with a wider audience. And by demonstrating the wider landscape of AIDS in South Africa and the efforts it has made, Anglo American has become a true ambassador of the issue.

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