19 September 2018 LESSONS Fashion

Inspiring World worldwide campaign gives an insight on how to build a successful employee engagement initiative

A group of people smiling and holding up hand drawn posters

For the past 3 years, C&A teams up with C&A Foundation to conduct a global campaign that invites every employee to dream big, have fun and participate in raising funds for charities. Originally Inspiring Women, a campaign that supported women’s empowerment, the initiative has evolved to Inspiring World, a campaign with a broader scope aligning with C&A’s sustainability framework. The campaign calls C&A employees to think of how they can make fashion with a positive impact by asking a simple question: “What’s your dream for a better world for everyone?”. 

Between 2015 and 2017, the Inspiring Women initiative mobilized over 51,000 C&A employees around the world and raised over EUR2million for women's charities. In 2018, C&A and C&A Foundation broadened the scope of the employee initiative by aligning it to the company’s sustainability framework while keeping the deep personal connection employees had with the campaign. The charities chosen this year focused on creating a positive impact on the environment or strengthening local communities by improving the lives of people working in the local textile industry.



Increase in participation and pride in the company

The results were impressive. In 2018 65% of all employees participated in the Inspiring World campaign, compared to 47% in the 2017 Inspiring Women*. Accordingly, donations to charities increased significantly from €573,940 in 2017 to €1,001,150 in 2018. In an employee engagement survey conducted by the agency Cornish & Grey in Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Mexico and Poland after the Inspiring World campaign, 91% of participants said they were proud of being associated with C&A compared to 84% following the 2017 Inspiring Women*.

Successfully mobilizing thousands of employees

But, why did the campaign work so well and mobilized thousands of employees around the world to create positive impact? The team took some lessons learned:

  • Make it 100% inclusive. Every single employee could take part, no matter their location or role, from headquarters to distribution centers.
  • Keep it simple (and fun). Keep activities as simple as possible. In this case, employees were already familiar with the three-step process: 1. Tell a story, 2. Take a pic, 3. Vote. Who doesn’t want to draw something and take a group picture with colleagues? It’s just fun! Participating by groups made things so much easier and fun too.
  • Link it to business. Employees could easily relate to C&A’s sustainability framework, they were inspired and had many examples from their everyday work (such as bio cotton or #WearTheChange). This enabled their participation and grew their happiness at work.
  • Keep the communication flowing. Communicating A LOT before, during and after the campaign was crucial. The message came through loud and clear, even after the funds were delivered to charities. Many, short and constant messages through all channels, made the campaign feel like a big moment in the company.
  • A word from top leadership can do magic. Recruit business leadership as champions. And make sure they agree this is the right moment for the business to enroll in the campaign. Our experience shows that leaders’ voices have an enormous impact on cascading engagement companywide.
  • Have a strong central team. There must be a small group of volunteer coordinators in charge of providing direction and representing their country in the global conversation. These coordinators recruit ambassadors across each location to engage colleagues across every store, office and distribution center.
  • Be flexible. Business environments tend to be challenging and ever changing, if you are planning a campaign like this for your company, you will have to be flexible and quickly adjust to changes in order for your campaign to be successful.
  • Pilot: Before jumping off a cliff, test the waters. Before launching the campaign in 2015 we did focus groups, pilots and interviews in several countries. Same as 2018 when we intended to change the concept of the campaign. Have your audience test the concept, observe and adapt using their inputs. Just as if you were launching a new product into the market.
  • Evaluate and learn; it may not be perfect from the beginning. In the end, what really matters is the ability to learn and change. Measure your impact; before and after the campaign you will need a baseline and a target. Learn and rethink what needs to improve for next year. It’s very likely that your campaign won’t be perfect from the very first time - and that is fine.

What did we learn?

Planning 2019

Following this years’ experience the organizing teams at C&A and C&A Foundation are improving next year’s campaign by:

  • Commencing planning one whole year in advance;
  • Systematizing rewards across all regions, and
  • Re-thinking how to build longer term relationships between NGOs and C&A through the campaign. 

Together C&A, NGOs and C&A employees, are creating fashion with a positive impact and look forward to even more employees and organisations to join next year!

More about Inspiring World

C&A employees around the world are asked to imagine how they can contribute to making a better world. They tell their story and upload it to the campaign platform together with a photo. In a final step they vote for one out of three nominated charities (two local and one global). Based on this C&A Foundation makes EUR 10 donation per vote to the 55 charities.

*In November 2016 the campaign was held only in Brazil, Mexico and Sourcing hubs in Asia whilst in May 2017 it was held exclusively in Europe. In June 2018, all regions participated simultaneously again, as in 2015.