Liz Claiborne’s 2002 Women’s Work Program
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Liz Claiborne’s 2002 Women’s Work Program

In 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc. (LCI) became the first major corporation in America to take a stand on domestic violence when it launched Women’s Work, an anti-abuse public service awareness campaign.

Paul Holmes

In 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc. (LCI) became the first major corporation in America to take a stand on domestic violence when it launched Women’s Work, an anti-abuse public service awareness campaign. Women’s Work resulted in part from research by Patrice Tanaka & Company, Inc. (PT&Co.), which commissioned a national survey for LCI that revealed 96 percent of LCI customers believed domestic violence was a problem in America and 91 percent would have a positive opinion of a company conducting an awareness campaign about the issue.
Based on these and other findings, PT&Co. developed a cause-related marketing/public relations program on domestic violence awareness that was designed to strengthen the bond between LCI and its customers and to enhance Liz Claiborne’s leadership in corporate social responsibility. Each year, the company partners with PT&Co. to develop and evolve the program and reach different audiences with focused anti-abuse messages.
Previous campaigns have targeted women, men, parents, teens, college students, corporate America and the legal and medical establishments. In 2002, Women’s Work broke new ground by benchmarking a 1994 survey of corporate leaders on the issue of domestic violence. The results have strengthened Liz Claiborne’s commitment to help corporations understand their role in the issue and provide resources to those who are ready to take a role in addressing the issue.
The campaign faced numerous challenges: competing for media coverage during the crowded “women’s issues” month of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, among others; overcoming the media’s increasing resistance to covering “tough” issues such as relationship violence; overcoming the budgetary constraints that forced LCI to cancel its annual Charity Shopping Day, which had taken place around the country for the past seven years; and maintaining media interest in LCI’s Women’s Work program 11 years after it was created and with many more companies involved in domestic violence prevention than ever before.
To research the 2002 program, PT&Co. reached out academic researchers at Harvard and the University of North Carolina as well as leaders in the domestic violence community, including the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Safe Horizon and Break the Cycle. This research suggested that the most effective next step for the Women’s Work program would be to focus on developing strategic alliances within the domestic violence prevention community.
 The objective was to reinforce LCI’s relevance to its core customers, positioning the company as an innovative, socially responsible corporate leader that cares about the future of America’s families.
The PR team set out to update the creative execution of the Women’s Work campaign so that it continues to be groundbreaking, innovative and worthy of generating media attention,11 years after the program was launched; to reach out to organizations and influentials tied to the issues of domestic violence, child abuse and date rape to build and enhance a community database and to inform potential changes to the Women’s Work program going forward; to generate significant media coverage on a national and local level, including high-profile media placements; and to produce a newsworthy fundraising item designed to both raise awareness for LCI in fashion, teen and women’s media as well as raise funds for domestic violence service agencies.
It was important for the campaign to continue to provide much-needed informational resources (posters, handbooks, etc.) for domestic violence agencies nationwide to maintain LCI’s leadership role and proprietary stake in the issue; to continue to help corporations understand their role in the issue and provide informational resources to corporate leaders who still see domestic violence as a social problem rather than a business problem; and to continue LCI’s existing employee assistance program in order to reinforce the company’s position internally as a corporate leader in domestic violence prevention and education.
To strengthen its position in the domestic violence and corporate communities, LCI has been a major sponsor of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls, since 2001. LCI continued its sponsorship of V-Day in 2002 by designing a limited-edition sterling silver V-Day necklace sold in Liz Claiborne and Elisabeth stores during February and March 2002, when many major V-Day events took place. One hundred percent of the proceeds benefited the organization.
In 2002, LCI benchmarked its 1994 survey of America’s corporate leaders. Conducted by Roper ASW, the survey found that leaders have become increasingly aware of domestic violence as an issue that affects their employees and have become less likely to dismiss the issue’s bottom-line business impact. But just 12 percent think corporations should take a major role in addressing the issue—the same percentage as in 1994. Paul R. Charron, Chairman and CEO of Liz Claiborne Inc., revealed the results of the survey at the Seventh Annual National Conference on Domestic Violence Conference, “Security & Domestic Violence in the Workplace: A Blueprint for response,” held in New York City in October 2002.
To generate coverage in women’s and fashion media, each year LCI creates limited-edition retail items bearing a powerful anti-abuse message: “Love Is Not Abuse.” In 2002, a long-sleeved, cotton T-shirt ($12) was sold at all LCI stores during October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on an ongoing basis via 800-449-STOP. All profits benefit local and national domestic violence organizations.
To show solidarity for stopping violence against women, Liz Claiborne Inc. joined with the anti-violence community and Lifetime Television to put a spotlight on domestic violence and sexual assault in America and around the world. The apparel company designed a special tie and scarf for Congress and advocates to wear during Lifetime Television’s “Stop Violence Week in Washington” in March 2002. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-New York), Senator Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) and Queen Noor of Jordan were among those who wore the Liz Claiborne-designed tie and scarf. Speakers on behalf of the issue included Congress members Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), Julie Carson (D-Indiana), Lois Capps (D-California) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin).
To build greater awareness during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, LCI worked with ivillage.com to make informational resources available to the Web site’s visitors. Along with creating chat rooms and a link to Liz Claiborne’s educational Web site (loveisnotabuse.com), ivillage.com sold LCI’s fundraising T-shirts with profits benefiting the Family Violence Prevention Fund.
As a member of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV), LCI publicized a new Web site designed by CAEPV, www.girlsallowed.org, to help girls ages 11-14 identify and avoid unhealthy relationships that could lead to violence.
Since 1998, Liz Claiborne Inc. has produced a series of four award-winning educational handbooks, each with valuable information and resources on domestic violence. More than 500,000 handbooks have been distributed since 1998 and to satisfy the high volume of requests, Liz Claiborne reprinted more than 100,000 in 2002, each updated and condensed to include the most valuable information on this issue. The free booklets can be ordered by calling 1-800-449-STOP or they can be downloaded from the company’s Web site at www.lizclaiborne.com/loveisnotabuse.
LCI continued to distribute posters, buttons and brochures, free of charge, to all organizations and individuals that requested them, including domestic violence and social agencies, schools, hospitals, etc.
And LCI continued to educate its employees about domestic violence through its Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Additionally, domestic violence education messages were distributed via posters in restrooms, internal flyers and blast voice mail messages. LCI also created an internal Domestic Violence Task Force made up of representatives from the Women’s Work, Security and Human Resources departments. Additional, LCI added a domestic violence information packet to be included in all new employee orientation packages.
PT&Co. conducted a comprehensive media relations campaign, including long-/short-lead press release mailings, mat releases and audio news releases, and one-on-one pitching.
The 2002 Liz Claiborne Women’s Work program was evaluated on media impressions, quality of high-profile media placements, monies raised for domestic violence charities and recognition from the domestic violence community and LCI’s core audience: women and their families.
The 2002 Women’s Work campaign has yielded a total of 84,181,128 consumer media impressions for an advertising equivalency of over $348,000 and a PR value of more than $1 million. More than 260 news stories generated awareness of the campaign’s message.
Despite intensified competition for editorial coverage of “women’s issues” during October, as well as the media’s increasing reluctance to cover “tough” subjects like relationship violence, awareness of Liz Claiborne’s program was increased through widespread publicity. National coverage highlights included USA Today, Marie Claire, Newsweek, Self, Redbook, Essence, Women’s Wear Daily, Shape and Seventeen. Local market coverage highlights included newspaper coverage in the Boston Globe, San Jose Mercury News, Cincinnati Enquirer and Asbury Park Press.
Since the program’s inception in 1991, LCI has directly donated more than $1.4 million to organizations working to end domestic violence via fundraising initiatives and direct donations.
The company continues to be recognized as an innovative, socially responsible corporate leader . In 2002, “Women’s Work” Director Jane Randel made a presentation at the FBI “Violence in the Workplace” symposium. CEO Paul Charron delivered speeches at the Seventh Annual Domestic Violence in the Workplace Conference in New York City and a half-day conference on workplace violence policies funded by the Lazarus Fund, the Federated Foundation and Proctor & Gamble Co. in Cincinnati. Additionally, positive feedback from the community via telephone, mail and email revealed LCI’s success in raising awareness about dating violence.


 

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