Embrace the Power of Good
All businesses do good, but may not build it into their brand, or delivery.
‘Old school’ businesses build a high wall separating their business and their charitable work. In the age where the government needs societies to solve their own problems through enterprise, this is a wall you need to knock down. There is a new generation of businesses that place their social goals at the front of the business. These organisations are doing better at connecting with customers and giving people a reason to buy from them.
How to do better good
Audit the good you do already:
You will probably create jobs, which relieve poverty, include people in a community, and educate people. If you don’t make jobs you will still create economic value. A lot of your employers may spend company time volunteering or fundraising. These disparate elements can be co-ordinated in the same way you develop your staff to meet company goals.
Identify a social goal to get behind:
There may be a cause you already care about which fits just right with your strategic goals, but it is better to choose a goal which shows off what you do. If you sell houses do good for the homeless; if you provide professional services, find the mirror organisation that does what you do for the local community sector; if you sell clothes, dress the unemployed for interviews.
Choose how you are going to meet the goal:
You can meet your social goals through a wide variety of ways including: how your recruit or train staff; what you do with your profits; how you manage your supply chain; or who you do business with. You could introduce an employee volunteering scheme, or offer desk space in your office for social start-ups.
How far do you go?
There is continuum from becoming a charity yourself to having an informal partnership with a local good cause. Your area of business may be charitable in itself, e.g. training, or you can formally become the trading arm of a charity in a related field. Then there are lots of different terms for different kinds of social businesses: please don’t get hung up on definitions and types, it’s the social impact that is important. In America, the ‘B Corporation’ is growing popular. In the UK they like to talk about social enterprises and social business.
Here’s 6 reasons why you should go social
The modern consumer can buy their goods from anywhere in the world. They need a reason to buy from you. If your values match theirs then they will want to buy from you.
Modern publicity is about connecting and engaging with people online as well as across traditional media. It’s getting harder and harder to get pictures of your business in the local press because a member of staff has done a cycle ride for charity. You will get more useful media stories from engaging with people in a different way.
As soon as you are focused on good then the barriers around competitive advantage disappear and the energy of helping each other kicks in. Professional firms will give you pro bono support or better rates. People will give you a higher level of networking, positively sharing your info with their connections. You get higher levels of trust and people will like you more, and want to do business with you. People will want to be ambassadors for your brand.
Going social opens the doors to different types of social investment including donations, grants, and loans.
Why do the shareholders need the profit anyway? Let’s not keep on servicing the private owners/ shareholders without asking why. Companies and professional services are set up to create private benefit, because that’s the way it’s always been done. But in a new world where social engagement counts for more, new company structures are emerging.
It’s good to do good: This is a goal in itself.