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"Ribboning" promotes awareness

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Besides the flyers asking you to join a research study or encouraging you to be a part of Greek life, have you noticed the number of flyers trying to promote awareness? Or have you noticed the chalking all over campus aimed at supporting good causes?

Think about how many tables you walk by in front of Doherty Hall where students call you out and ask, “Do you want to help fight cancer?” We live in a society that is constantly promoting awareness. We live in a culture of ribbons. Is there anything wrong with that?

The classic pink breast cancer ribbon is very common in today’s culture. This is not surprising considering the fact that Susan G. Komen, the organization responsible for originating the symbol, has 105 corporate partners. Many of these corporate partners use the pink ribbon as a way of bringing in more consumers. Adding the pink ribbon to a company’s logo or slogan creates an attractive image for consumers who wish to support good causes. But is “pink-ribbon-ing” acceptable as a business?

I admit, when I see the pink ribbon, it makes me smile because it reminds me of the global efforts to fundraise for breast cancer research and awareness, a goal of the ribbon culture. The ribbon itself acts a reminder to people of the success that Susan G. Komen and similar organizations have achieved. When we see a sea of pink, making its way around the world, it is a giant step toward supporting those whose lives have been affected by breast cancer. The pink ribbon has become a universally-recognized symbol of hope and progress.

“Pink-ribbon-ing” is not tainting the message of Susan G. Komen and similar companies. Yes, it is an advantageous business strategy for companies, but it also lets us know that another helping hand is contributing to support breast cancer. This is simple collaboration.

If Susan G. Komen did not have many corporate partners, because it refused to allow “pink-ribbon-ing,” the organization would not have achieved the same level of success. Collaboration is a crucial means of advancing business interests, and it has proved to be one of the most effective methods of raising awareness.

Think about the number of Carnegie Mellon organizations that collaborate with each other to promote awareness of their goals. For example, a small service organization may decide to co-host an event with a larger, more prominent student organization. Even though they may not share the exact same goals, collaboration brings in more participants and helps all involved.

We live in a ribbon culture, where raising awareness is a significant step toward greater goals. Whether fundraising to build homes for refugees, collecting food for the hungry, or even sharing a cultural event with the entire campus, if the goal is to raise awareness, collaboration is an incredibly useful tool.