The Ethos Lever Model: Advocacy, Explained
The Ethos Lever Model utilizes fourteen different “Levers” by which an organization can make an impact. Each Lever serves a real opportunity to create value - but when strategically pulled together, result in a powerful and cohesive Social Impact strategy.
In this blog series, the Ethos team breaks down each Lever - complete with expanded definitions and real-life examples - so you can best understand how to pull the right Levers through your organization's social impact work. See all 14 Levers here.
The Advocacy Lever refers to asserting individual or brand leadership to support a cause or policy. This support can take place in either:
- The public sphere - for example, legislation
- The private sphere - for example, trade association statements
- As a starting point, all efforts should align with at least one other Lever
- Create (and utilize) criteria to ensure advocacy work is strategically leveraged
- Identify key partner nonprofit groups politically active in the issues fundamental to your social impact work
- Utilize your platform to support and raise awareness for legislation that furthers your organization’s social impact efforts
Advocacy: Three Real-Life Examples
1.Patagonia is a retailer for sports gear and clothing long renowned for its social impact work around environmental sustainability. The company operates with the mission statement “we’re in business to save our home planet.” Patagonia is one of the best examples of a corporation that has baked advocacy right into its business model.
For decades, Patagonia has supported grassroots activists working to find solutions to our planet’s environmental crisis. In an effort to expand impact and make it easier for more people to get involved, the company founded Patagonia Action Works. The group connects individuals looking to make a difference with grantees to take action on the most pressing environmental issues the world faces today – through participation in local events, signing petitions, volunteer opportunities, cash donations, and more.
Patagonia is also quick to get involved with other of-the-moment pressing political issues: For example, the fight for protected lands. In 2017, when the Trump administration decided to substantially reduce protected land in Utah’s Bears Ears, the company fought back. Patagonia sued to block the administration’s move and, in a dramatic gesture, blacked out its home page and delivered a simple message: “The President Stole Your Land.”
2.Ben and Jerry’s is famous for its ice cream, sorbet, and other frozen treats. Founded in 1978 in Burlington, Vermont, the company is widely renowned for its social impact work. This is evident in their values and mission statement: “Guided by our Core Values, we seek in all we do, at every level of our business, to advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalized communities, and protect and restore the Earth's natural systems. In other words: we use ice cream to change the world.”
From racial justice to climate justice to LGBTQ+ rights, the company doesn’t shy away from advocacy work. But above all else, Ben and Jerry’s is deeply committed to fighting campaign finance reform: “...dough doesn’t mix so well with democracy. In fact, there’s so much big money flooding into our elections in the United States that the voice of regular folks is being drowned out. Things started getting really bad in 2010, when the US Supreme Court ruled in its now-infamous Citizens United decision that corporations are allowed to spend unlimited money to influence election outcomes. That’s not democracy!” Ben and Jerry’s uses its platform to promote relevant issues, for example:
- Overturning Citizen’s United
- The voting/polling process
- Taking “big money” out of politics
- Voting Rights Act, or VRA
Ben and Jerry’s also provides significant support to Free Speech For People, a national non-profit non-partisan organization “challenging big money in politics, confronting corruption in government, fighting for free and fair elections, and advancing a new jurisprudence grounded in the promises of political equality and democratic self-government.”
3. Beautycounter is a manufacturer dedicated to safe, clean skincare and makeup. Their advocacy work is a good example of a company deeply involved in unifying political efforts.
Beyond just selling its own line, Beautycounter fights for beauty laws – so that everyone can access safer products. “Changing the beauty industry means more than simply making safer products. We are proud to be the leading company advocating for more health-protective legislation across North America.” For context, the European Union has banned or restricted 1,400+ ingredients from personal-care products… while the U.S. has banned or restricted only 30.
Since 2013, Beautycounter has worked with lawmakers of all political parties to ensure the safety of product ingredients, stand up for consumer access to transparent labeling, and advocate for a future in which the beauty industry does not harm the planet. Their consumer base hosts meetings with their local Congresspeople to advocate for updates to laws governing personal-care products: “By lending our business voice and the support of Consultants and Clients across the country, we’ve raised the profile of personal-care product legislation, and passed many into law. Recently, we helped pass two pieces of important consumer-protective legislation in California, closing the ‘fragrance loophole’ and eliminating certain ingredients known to cause health harms from personal-care products.”