Purpose At Work: How Walmart uses its scale to #SparkKindness

Walmart is leveraging its presence in communities across the country to inspire acts of kindness, both large and small. As Chief Customer Officer, Janey Whiteside says, “Acts of kindness can be anything — picking up trash in your local park, supporting a local shelter, or even just buying a cup of coffee for a stranger.” Walmart believes that these good acts compound on each other as associates and customers encourage each other to keep doing more.

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To launch this initiative, Walmart enlisted actress and philanthropist Jennifer Garner who teamed up with Walmart associates to revitalize a Save the Children community space in Alpaugh, California. As Garner explains in the launch video, this is just the beginning of the #SparkKindness campaign as Walmart pursues similar projects across the country.

In order to spark the initiative inside the company, Walmart associates who do any act of kindness and promote it with the #SparkKindness and #WalmartAssociateChallenge hashtags also gets the opportunity to recommend a Walmart grant to a charity. Walmart is encouraging everyone to share their own kind acts to “create the change we want to see in the world.”

What can purposeful brands learn from Walmart’s #SparkKindness initiative?

1. Concentrate on what’s true to your purpose where you can have the most impact.

Walmart is dedicated “to using its size and scale for good” and the #SparkKindness initiative turns those words into deeds. While many companies have community service programs, none are better equipped to do this at scale. With 11,000 stores, a supply chain that can easily deploy resources and supplies across the country, and a workforce embedded in their local communities, Walmart can leverage its might to have a meaningful impact that reaches the greatest number of lives.

When choosing your own impact effort, be sure to think about what programs, partners (including nonprofits) and projects are most best to your company’s purpose. Who can you reach easily? What can you supply? Who could you work with? And how can you rally all your stakeholders — employees, customers, consumers, partners, communities and the world at large — to play a part?

When your impact work is directly aligned with your brand, it encourages stakeholders to build your business brand with you. In this way, your brand isn’t simply ticking a CSR box — it is driving growth that, in turn, enables greater impact.

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2. Empower your most valuable resource: your employees.

Walmart has many resources and logistics on its side, but the most valuable resource it has are its associates. They can participate in the #SparkKindness challenge and together fuel the nationwide effort. By educating, equipping and inspiring associates to spark kindness, Walmart also builds a purposeful culture that rallies them around the meaningful difference they can make in the communities in which they work and live.

Not only will this help Walmart win the talent that the company needs, but by sharing those stories of kindness, their associates will become true brand advocates that can elevate #SparkKinness into a movement that can take on a life of its own.

3. Celebrate the stories of those you impact.

Many companies are creating an impact in a way that is true to their company purpose, but failing to share those stories in ways that increase awareness and engagement. Some do so to avoid seeming self-serving, but as long as the emphasis remains on celebrating those that are impacted, the stories will earn the brand goodwill, loyalty and sales.

For example, Walmart’s television ad features real associates showing a community project coming to completion. Partnering with Jennifer Garner and her social media community further amplifies Walmart’s work. As Walmart embarks on more projects and rewards participating employees, these stories will become a living library of content that can spark even more acts of kindness.

To unlock the value of an authentic commitment to your company’s purpose, be sure to capture and share the stories of the impact your brand community is generating. In doing so, always celebrate the role of employees and share the measurable impact that is being achieved. That way your purpose and its activation can scale your growth and impact.

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