Executives, your company doesn’t have to be a non-profit to help society and build a following around a cause. In fact, supporting a worthy cause can be the most valuable brand building you do.
According to a 2015 global corporate social responsibility study, 84 percent of consumers said they look for responsible products whenever possible and 88 percent said they are more loyal to companies that take corporate social responsibility
(CSR) seriously. But it’s not just consumers that care about CSR. When choosing a place of employment, 79 percent of people said they take into account the company’s social and ethical impact.
Consumers, particularly Millennials, are more informed and invested in social causes than ever before. They want to invest their money in companies that are selling eco-friendly, socially responsible products—and many leaders are beginning to catch on.
Some companies like Patagonia, Warby Parker, and Ben & Jerry’s are incorporated under the new structure of a Benefit Corporation (B-Corp), which is offered by 30 U.S. states. B-Corps voluntarily follow higher standards of corporate purpose, accountability, and transparency. Patagonia, for example, donates one percent of their sales to environmental charities, and Ben & Jerry’s awards five social change grants annually.
But companies can still run a traditional for-profit business, make a profit, and be structured around a social mission. Take for example these socially and environmentally conscious companies like Life is Good, Burt’s Bees, Toms shoes, and more.
Life is Good
The positive lifestyle brand Life is Good has figured out CSR better than most. Brothers John and Bert Jacobs launched their business with $78 in their pockets, selling T-shirts in the streets of Boston, and today Life is Good is a $100 million positive lifestyle brand. The company still operates on the same tenants of optimism, gratitude, authenticity, collaboration and giving that is was founded on. Life is Good donates at least 10% of its annual net profits to the Life is Good Kids Foundation to positively impact over 120,000 kids daily facing poverty, violence, and illness.
Bert Jacobs , LIG co-founder and chief executive optimist, advocates:
The smartest capitalists of today and in the future will integrate social work into their businesses—their customers demand it. Doing so draws out a deeper purpose in corporate work and strengthens organizations. There are many ways of philanthropizing for-profit organizations, from integrating charity into the sales process to marketing the message to cultivating a genuine culture of social good in the workplace.
When Douglas Conant come on as Campbell’s CEO in 2001 the company was facing a decline in market value. Conant was able to reverse this decline by transforming the leadership team, cutting costs, and focusing on the company’s social responsibility. The company focused on reducing their environmental footprint by cutting water consumption and greenhouse gas emission in half, as well as increasing recycling to 95 percent, all by 2020.
What started as a $200 dollar investment in the production of bee’s wax candles at a local farmer’s market turned into a 250 million dollar plus environmentally-friendly, natural personal-care company. Burt’s Bees has stayed true to it’s simple, natural, and eco-friendly message. In addition to their products containing 99% natural ingredients, the company makes product packaging out of recycled materials. They also focus on scaling their operational footprint, the ethical sourcing their materials, and making regular donations to nonprofit organizations
ARZU (which means “hope” in Dari) is an innovative model of social entrepreneurship that employs and empowers women weavers in Afghanistan and their families. Starting with just 30 weavers, today ARZU employs some 500 women and has transformed into a learning laboratory for grassroots economic development. Connie Duckworth—who serves pro bono as the chairman and CEO—prioritizes that the company support education, maternal health, and community development programs for its employees.
The company focuses on community, ethical sourcing, and the environment. They focus on diversity and inclusion with their pledge to hire at least 10,000 veterans by 2018. Generally, the coffee company tries to be as environmentally friendly as possible by building LEED-certified stores and committing to recycling, as well as committing to ethical sourcing of their products. The company also supports products such as Ethos Water, which brings clean water to more than 1 billion people who don’t have access.
Many of these CEO’s are also keynote speakers who donate their speaking fees to charities and non-profits. But, if these examples haven’t sold you on the concept of CSR yet, here are some specific advantages of implementing a socially responsible business model into your business:
Customer engagement, advocacy, and loyalty
These days, existing customer advocacy is a key attractor of new customers. In addition, according to recent statistics, the cost of bringing a new customer to the same level of profitability as old ones is up to 16 times more.
Customer base expansion
Social contribution and sustainability are aspects that appeal to a whole new and expanding group of customers. CSR and sustainability are extremely important in reaching across various customer bases in the U.S. as well as those in different cultures around the world.
Increased employee motivation and retention
Sponsoring social initiatives and providing time for employees to support their own initiatives builds loyalty, pride, and motivation among team members. This makes everyone in the company more engaged and more responsive.
The opportunity to make a difference
Making a difference is, after all, the main objective of corporate social responsibility, right? The chance to move the needle towards making the world better for someone somewhere by the work you’re doing is its own reward.
The content writers at BigSpeak Speakers Bureau are Experts on the Experts. They hold doctoral, masters, and bachelors’ degrees in business, writing, literature, and education. Their business thought pieces are published regularly in leading business publications. Working in close association with the top business, entrepreneur, and motivational speakers, BigSpeak content writers are at the forefront of industry trends and research.