To be truly successful in business, you must create value beyond profits for your shareholders. It’s about making a positive change in the world and inspiring others to do the same.
According to a Nielsen survey “55 percent of global online consumers across 60 countries say they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact.”
That being said, it will both positively affect the community as well as your bottom line.
Maintaining a socially responsible business will likely boost employee performance, assist in obtaining funding, spark innovation and definitely reduce costs. The benefits truly outweigh the costs. Experience that for yourself by using these methods to sustain a socially responsible enterprise.
1. Crowdsource ideas
First and foremost, you’ll need to generate as many ideas as possible before you get started. Don’t limit the creativity to your executive team either. If you want to create a truly vibrant social responsibility program you’ll need to incorporate the entire firm.
After interviewing 216 executives at Fortune 200 companies, Weber Shandwick and KRC Research found that “44 percent had used crowdsourcing to generate ideas for the company’s social responsibility programming and 95 percent who had tried it found it valuable.”
If you can successfully engage your entire firm, you’ll create a much more inclusive and democratic socially responsible culture.
2. Find your purpose
The most effective way to tackle any social issue is with a direct purpose. Your purpose should align directly with your own personal values as well as those of your company. What value can you add that goes beyond your products and services? How can you truly impact people’s lives? Once you’re able to answer some of these questions, you’ll be able to identify your higher purpose and further develop your brand.
For example, Patrick Schecht launched fitppl, a company that offers a line of plant-based proteins and superfood blends that effectively reduce plastic waste. After seeing the effects of plastic pollution during a trip to Thailand, Patrick knew that his purpose was to raise awareness of the plastic pollution epidemic. He decided to do this by creating socially-conscious products in an industry that overuses plastic.
3. Empower your staff
Change truly does start from within. If you’re looking to maintain a socially responsible corporation, you need to start with your staff. First and foremost, you should go above and beyond what’s “required” and strive for what’s ethical. The “minimum” wage is typically not a living wage.
Patagonia is a fantastic example of a company that pledges to be socially and environmentally responsible. Patagonia aims to provide livable wages and fair working conditions to every single employee in every location. In addition, Patagonia works very closely with suppliers to minimize its environmental impact. Patagonia provides complete transparency of its mission and impact on its website in an effort to inspire others to follow in its footsteps.
If your employees feel protected financially, they will be more motivated and loyal toward the firm. With increased production and less money spent on employee turnover, you’ll likely see an increase in profits. As your company grows, make sure your message stays consistent so you can create a positive and lasting company culture.
4. Bake it into the business
One of the best ways to stay consistent is to incorporate social responsibility directly into your business model. Take the Buy-One-Give-One or BOGO business model for example. Every time a customer purchases one of your products, you essentially pledge to give one of your products to an individual in need.
This accomplishes two things. One, it forces a company to create a sustainable business model both for profits and for responsibility. Two, it empowers customers by adding value to their purchase beyond the physical good or service.
TOMS coined the term, TOMS One for One, where the company pledges to help a person in need for every TOMS product purchased. Beyond simply giving, TOMS developed partnerships and funded programs that have impacted lives well beyond its products. For example, TOMS was able to restore the eyesight of 325,000 people through TOMS eyewear and 175,000 others through cataracts surgeries.
The TOMS brand was built on these morals with a business model to stand behind it. Despite all the money spent on philanthropy and all the products it has given away, the business model rang true as the 2014 Bain Capital deal suggested. TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie sold 50 percent of TOMS to Bain Capital at a $625 million valuation back in 2014. That goes to show, social responsibility and profits surely can go hand in hand.
In the end of the day, you’ll need to make sure you can sustain your business and provide value for your shareholders. Just don’t forget your responsibility doesn’t stop there. In fact, that’s just where it starts.