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The first Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign was initiated in 1992 by Mrs. Evelyn Lauder. With the focus on the BCA Campaign activities, Mrs. Lauder shared the vision that the females and males from all over the world can unite in order to cope with the threat of the breast cancer, and each person can have the unique contribution to these activities.
Mrs. Lauder proposed to use the Pink Ribbon as a symbol for depicting the women’s breast health. The symbol became universal, and today it is associated with the global activities of the BCA Campaign launched by Estee Lauder Companies. It is important to state that the BCA Campaign activities are oriented to increasing the public awareness of the breast health and collecting the resources for the research and medical assistance.
The purpose of this report is to present the evaluation of the Pink Thursday Competition as one of the BCA Campaign internal activities implemented by Estee Lauder Companies in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, with the focus on providing recommendations for the company’s Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer regarding the further improvement of the internal communications.
Activity in the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign
The Pink Thursday Competition is launched in the context of the BCA Campaign in order to enhance the awareness of the breast cancer among the Estee Lauder Companies’ employees in Dubai. The activity is held annually, and it lasts four weeks in October, during which employees are encouraged to demonstrate their pink outfits on four Thursdays.
The activity’s purpose is to involve the Estee Lauder Companies’ employees in the BCA Campaign, share the values and vision proclaimed by Mrs. Lauder, and support the global BCA Campaign movement. The winners are determined each week, based on the photographs made during Pink Thursdays by the Internal Communications (IC) team. The pink outfits of employees are evaluated in terms of their creativity and unique style.
The winners of the Pink Thursday Competition are awarded Pink Ribbon products, as well as spa and fitness vouchers. The percentage received from selling Pink Ribbon products is sent to the BCA Campaign charity activities. It is expected that a large number of employees of Estee Lauder Companies in Dubai can be encouraged to participate in the Pink Thursday Competition, supporting the BCA Campaign and developing the internal communication and culture within the organization.
Estee Lauder Companies’ Past Communications
In 2014, the BCA Campaign was based on the idea of sharing the personal experience of surviving from the breast cancer. The communication sources used for the 2014 BCA Campaign included press releases, press books, letters and notifications on the website, news articles, and articles in women’s magazines.
However, the sources for communicating the internal Pink Thursday Competition for Estee Lauder Companies’ employees were not so various, they included e-mails and the information about the activity were shared with the help of informal communication among employees.
As a result, the external BCA Campaign communications oriented to the global audience, women suffering from breast cancer, celebrities, and charity organizations worked effectively when the messages to support the internal activities were not as effective because of lacking the use of formal channels of communication such as face-to-face meetings and informal channels of communication such as social media.
It would be more effective to use social media and internal newsletters to communicate the Pink Thursday event because it was held during the month, and it had the high potential of attracting employees to participate in it. Having analyzed the past year internal communications regarding the BCA Campaign and the Pink Thursday Competition, it is possible to compose the Practice Maturity Scale (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Practice Maturity Scale for External and Internal Communications of 2014
Figure 1 indicates that the external communications associated with the activities in the context of the 2014 BCA Campaign are rather effective, demonstrating the evaluated and even optimized levels of maturity. On the contrary, the maturity of the internal communications and the Pink Thursday Competition is rather low, with the focus on ad hoc, planned, and institutionalized activities.
Estee Lauder Companies’ Current Communications
The analysis of the communication practices typical of the 2015 Pink Thursday Competition is based on two audit methods in order to conduct the effective assessment of the internal communications approaches used in Estee Lauder Companies in Dubai.
The network analysis and document review were used in order to collect the data on the internal communications used to inform about and encourage the participation in the 2015 Pink Thursday Competition in Dubai. The network analysis allows understanding what channels of information are used by the IC team in order to address different employees. The document review allows focusing on the available examples of the internal communications to conclude about the effectiveness of shared messages.
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Internal Communications Results and Analysis
The results of the network analysis indicate that in 2015, the IC team of Estee Lauder Companies in Dubai used only one channel to communicate the purpose and aspects of the Pink Thursday Competition for the employees. The IC team used the option of sending two variants of standard e-mails to all employees.
In spite of the fact that the practice of sending e-mails is institutionalized (Figure 2), it is possible to state that this practice works effectively only to communicate the goals, vision, and aspects of the Pink Thursday Competition and announce winners, but it is not appropriate to encourage the high rate of participation in the Pink Thursday event. Thus, the integrated communications are not promoted in the company.
Sending standard e-mails to inform about starting the Pink Thursday Competition, the IC team does not use opportunities to examine and compare the employees’ reactions to the informative messages and encourage their participation in the events. This approach is typical of the ad hoc stage.
According to the collected data, despite being the institutionalized practices, the informative e-mails sent at the beginning of October of 2015 are regarded as non-appealing, boring in spite of being written in the informal language, including long messages, and non-encouraging participation.
On the contrary, the e-mails sent after each week’s end and announcing the winners are appealing, including the photographs of winners and their pink outfits, and having the higher potential to attract the event participants among the employees. From this perspective, the network analysis demonstrates that the IC team effectively communicates winners of the Pink Thursday Competition, but it can fail to communicate all employees before the event is started.
The integrated communications, the involvement and encouragement of the staff to participate in the Pink Thursday Competition are planned activities, but they are not performed effectively because of relying only on one channel of communication and use of standardized messages.
Figure 2. Practice Maturity Scale for Internal Communications regarding 2015 Pink Thursday Competition
The review of documents regarding the IC team activities indicates the actual numbers of the employees’ participation in the Pink Thursday Competition in October of 2015. The data is related to different departments of Estee Lauder Companies in Dubai, employing 150 individuals. Figure 3 demonstrates the proportion of employees participating in the Pink Thursday Competition in 2015 with the focus on analyzing the number of participants from different departments.
Figure 3. Percentage of Employees Participating in the 2015 Pink Thursday Competition
According to the data, all employees from the Human Resources and Internal Communications Departments participated in the event; 82% of employees from the Public Relations and Communication Department and 71% of employees working in the Marketing Department also participated in the Pink Thursday Competition.
Almost half of the staff in the Finance Department was also involved in the event. However, the percentage of participants working in the IT Department and the Sales Department was only about 25%. It is possible to state that the participation rate of the Human Resources and Internal Communications Departments is significantly higher than this rate in the IT and Sales Departments because of the informal communications between employees.
It can be assumed that the Human Resources and Internal Communications Departments shared the responsibility to informing the employees about the activity, and the employees from the Public Relations and Communication Department were also involved in the process as the event administrators.
The employees from other Departments did not react to the e-mail because they were not informed additionally about the Pink Thursday Competition, the level of their interest in the activity was minimal, and it is associated with the undeveloped relations between the employees from different departments.
Figure 4 demonstrates the percentage of males and females among the participants. The majority of participants were females who demonstrated their pink outfits each Thursday during October of 2015.
Figure 4. Percentage of Female and Male Employees Participating in the 2015 Pink Thursday Competition
The question about the lack of motivation in males to participate in the event is rather difficult to answer as the cause can be in the color of the proposed outfits that is traditionally associated with the feminine nature, as well as in the topic of the activity because the target audience of BCA Campaign is females who need to increase their awareness of the breast health. Therefore, it is possible to note that these two aspects could become the causes of the low percentage of involved males.
The analysis of the data indicates that the use of one channel of communication is not appropriate in order to guarantee the integrated communications and involve all participants in the activities that serve for raising the awareness regarding the BCA Campaign’s vision and overall culture of Estee Lauder Companies in Dubai. It is possible to assume that the IC team used only e-mails to communicate the employees because this approach was institutionalized and adopted previously.
However, it did not have the expected effect on the employees because the message to address the diverse audience from different departments was standardized and lacking details, images, photographs, and information rewards to stimulate the interest to the activity.
As a result, the activities remained to be at the planned level in spite of being used previously, as there were no improvements in the participation rates. It is possible to state that the employees of both genders from different departments were not reached with the effective messages to increase the interest of males and the personnel from the IT and Sales Departments.
The primary strengths of the current IC program are its annual character and the possibility to improve used approaches to reach the evaluated and optimized levels in communications. However, in spite of being launched every year, the Pink Thursday Competition is not communicated effectively to illustrate all advantages of participation for employees.
At the current stage, although the BCA Campaign is successful, and all employees know about the associated activities, including the Pink Thursday Competition, the participation rate is low as employees decide to participate mainly referring to the examples of their colleagues, as it is in case of Human Resources, Internal Communications, as well as Public Relations and Communication Departments.
The employees of other departments do not perceive the event as important. The cause is the lack of communication between employees from different departments, the lack of the important information about fun activities on the website, and the lack of the CEO’s example of participating in the event to stimulate the interest. The direct involvement of CEO in the Pink Thursday Competition can be discussed as an effective approach to increase the participation rates.
The activities of the BCA Campaign are effective when they are oriented to the external audience and customers because they involve the use of different channels of communication, print and online sources of information, messengers, and role models. The focus is on involving each female and her families’ members in participation in the BCA Campaign. Still, this approach is weak in relation to organizing the internal communications.
The information regarding the Pink Thursday Competition is not provided to the diverse personnel using different channels; as a result, the communications plan for this concrete activity does not work effectively. The present issues are caused by the problems observed for the year of 2014 when the IC team also paid little attention to varying the communication channels and increasing the engagement of employees.
The employee engagement plays an important role in affecting the overall performance of the organization and the reputation regarding the company’s activities among shareholders. The BCA Campaign launched by Mrs. Lauder in 1992 aims at attracting many messengers and donators to support the activities to improve the women’s breast health.
Therefore, the number of donations, the effectiveness of charity activities, and the popularity of the BCA Campaign depend on the employees’ involvement or engagement in the activities associated with the campaign. The low engagement of the Estee Lauder Companies’ employees in Dubai in the Pink Thursday Competition can influence the overall public interest to the BCA Campaign in the United Arab Emirates.
The shareholders and potential donators are inclined to assess the credibility and effectiveness of the campaign referring to the observed employees’ behaviors. While referring to the results of the analysis, it is possible to identify the following areas for the improvement: number of communication channels; use of directed messages; use of graphics and illustrative materials; and use of encouraging techniques.
In order to enhance the internal communications approaches that are observed in Estee Lauder Companies in Dubai, it is necessary to propose the prioritized recommendations to address the identified areas of weaknesses:
- The IC team used only one communication channel while ignoring the opportunities to use the social media and other online resources to address the employees effectively. To increase the number of participants in the next year Pink Thursday Competition, it is necessary to use social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest, to inform about the start of the event and update on its progress. In addition to the informal e-mails, the employees working in different departments should be communicated with the help of newsletters, face-to-face meetings, booklets, and posters in offices. The benefits of this approach are in the larger number of informed and interested employees.
- Managers from all departments of Estee Lauder Companies in Dubai should be informed about the Pink Thursday Competition additionally, with the help of the face-to-face meeting, and they should have the responsibility for organizing their employees’ participation in the event. The managers are expected to participate in the event and wear the pink outfits or elements of the clothes in spite of their gender, and they expected to encourage employees to join the activity. The benefits are in using directed messages, improving the integrated communication, and increasing engagement.
- The IC team should enhance the attractiveness of used communication sources and apply the use of info-graphics, images, visuals, video messages, posters, and podcasts to make the message more appealing and appropriate for understanding. The benefits of this approach are in the employees’ increased motivation.
- The IC team should choose the formal and informal language to communicate depending on the message and channel. The informative messages can be written or spoken using the formal language when posters, newsletters, and videos can utilize the informal language.
- Storytelling in newsletters or booklets is one more approach to making the message more directed and audience-oriented, and it can be used as an encouraging technique to motivate employees to tell their personal story related to breast cancer.
- The IC team can improve the communication with male employees and enhancing their participation in the Pink Thursday Competition while proposing the male-oriented messages in e-mails and posters to support the family support in fighting with cancer.
- The managers of departments should be encouraged to inform employees about possibilities to propose their improvements for the Pink Thursday Competition in e-mails to the IC team to make it more appealing for employees.
- The IC team should guarantee the sending of notification messages with the help of applications and mobile devices.
The IC team working for Estee Lauder Companies in Dubai missed several opportunities to increase the rate of participation in the Pink Thursday Competition, as well as the employee engagement. The involvement of the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer in deciding on the activity planning and the implementation of the proposed recommendations can contribute to improving the internal communications in the organization.