As Director of Outreach, it has long been my philosophy that by helping others, and specifically the community you serve, you will build a solid and ethical business foundation. I can think of no better way of marketing any business or organization than by reaching out. It is a constant joy to work at Studio Movie Grill (SMG) where our owner and founder has embraced Conscious Capitalism and actually named community involvement and giving back as one of the pillars of our company.
John Mackey of Whole Foods has just published a book about Conscious Capitalism, citing that “capitalism works best with ethical underpinnings.” However, he goes on to say, “If everybody is always calculating what’s to their advantage, and no one comes with generosity or kindness or compassion or forgiveness – higher virtues – your society starts to break down.”
I agree with him that business has the capacity to integrate an ethical foundation on which capitalism can thrive and humanity as a whole can benefit. What a great goal to work towards.
At SMG, we began with baby steps seven years ago, not only by continuing to donate to the community and offering fundraisers as we had always done, but by initiating our Special Needs Screenings, serving families raising children with special needs. These came about as the result of recognizing a specific need of a staff member. An SMG general manager was raising two children with autism and had never attended a movie with his family. It was a light bulb moment and a natural progression to offer families that opportunity and have screenings of first run movies at SMG where families could attend together without the fear of disturbing other patrons, where children could sing and dance in the aisles, and feel comfortable with other supportive families. Lights would be up a little, sound down a little, and, better yet, we were able to offer these screenings free to children with special needs and their siblings, and work with local non-profits serving those families. The SMG team wholeheartedly embraced the ability to help others by offering our core business for good. Our special needs programs served almost 7750 children and over 6000 of their adult family members in 2012. As we grow, our program grows.
This lead to further thought on ways we could help, or offer something of value to our major stakeholders – our valued customers. With the support of our owner/founder, I was able to create free alternate programs that embraced the idea of offering something of significant value to our patrons including: SMG Educates offering educational films and documentaries with Q&A’s – HBO’s recent WEIGHT OF THE NATION was a valuable discussion on obesity and changes that could be made; SMG Speaker Series where we invited Crimestoppers Executive Director to show a film and talk to her constituents about tough subjects like human trafficking and identity theft and, one of my favorites, SMG Reel Docs working with a local medical group or hospital to show pertinent movies about important medical issues that impact our local communities. We learned that we didn’t have to show documentaries, that there were major movies that dealt with pertinent health problems (THE NOTEBOOK (Altzheimers), FLIGHT (Alcoholism) and these movies gave us the opportunity to entertain but talk about issues of importance to our constituents with medical professionals hosting. All these programs are offered free.
Another great use of our facilities is hosting fundraisers, special screenings for impacted groups – as the new years begins, we have screened THE BIG PICTURE: RETHINKING DYSLEXIA for parents of children with dyslexia, WAITING FOR SUPERMAN for young leaders, will show MISS REPRESENTATION for the Womens’ Foundation Gender in Media Forum, and the premiere of CHASING BEAUTY to discuss with the filmmaker the ugly side of being pretty.
Thus, with the support of our SMG Team, I am proud to say we have been able to use our core business for good….from simple donations to large events. We have instilled in our company a pillar that allows for each theater to present a challenge to its team to “Change the world, one movie at a time” and come up with ways they can reach out into their specific communities, alongside the home office, where we support Children’s Medical Center and annually run, ride, walk & bike their Red Balloon fundraiser aside from our personal volunteerism.
This year, amongst other things, we plan to launch SMG Chefs for Children, a program that will offer monthly specials created by our chefs and 5% of proceeds will go to supporting our special needs non-profits.
Our owner and I strongly believe that we all need to become more conscious and seek a higher sense of purpose – as Mr. McKay so rightly says, “….one that seeks to create value for employees, suppliers, investors and customers alike”, and that, by employing this philosophy, we will ultimately create value for all SMG stakeholders.