Can we Do Well by Doing Good?

Last week, I made a speech at the college I’m currently studying in. The subject was “Globalization, impacts and responsibilities”. Here is the less boring part.

« We strive to show a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company
and for the communities in which they live. »

That sentence takes part of the Ben&Jerry’s mission statement. Make sure that their business participates in a good way to their stakeholder’s life; make sure that they improve society both globally and locally.  They donate 7.5% of their profit to charities and plan to only sell products from fair trade by 2013. At the same time, the company created in 1978 in Vermont is very profitable and reached 132 million  $ of revenue in 2012!

Wonderful example to set up the idea I want to defend: doing well by doing good is possible! The capitalist vision created by Wall Street on companies that have to be cruel to make a profit is wrong. Establish a social cause associated to the business is possible.

That attitude is called corporate social responsibility: how the company supports its stakeholders. Companies are now trying to make a profit but also to make something positive for the society. Social responsibility is now an overarching goal that supports the business.

Last week I attended a conference animated by Liz Bohannon, founder of Sseko design. During a trip in Ouganda, she decided to set up a business locally with women that have a 9 months gap between the end of Highschool and College. Her business is profitable and provides jobs to 50 people in Ouganda, improving their lives and participating to the development of that poor country. She understood that being a for-profit and having a social cause are not opposite.

Interesting thoughts from that wonderful entrepreneur:

Big corporations such as Nike or Sony are also implementing strong programs so be socially responsible. And they are leaders in their industries.

Here are the 2 main benefits of CSR:

–       Reputation in the consumer market

CSR has the ability to build up a brand or damage it almost instantly.

Social responsibility adds value to the product. Sseko design doesn’t only produce sandals and bags, they give the opportunity to people to permit those women to go to college and pursue their dreams, which makes a difference. We care about the core goals of an organization when we are making our buying decisions. We are looking for peope who “believe what we believe”!

Thus, it directly impacts customer retention and customer loyalty. B&J’s has a real community of customer that promotes the brand and protects its image!

–       Reputation in the labor market

The motivation of employees is enhanced by the core values of the company. They must be animated by a common goal and an answer to the question “why?” Why the company is producing those products? What is its impact on people?

Those answers give sense to the day-to-day work of an organization. Furthermore, a good reputation in the labor market will attract new talents that will push the company to do better. Google is ranked as best company to work for according to Fortune. The leaders of that company deeply believe that happy employees and partners is good for business! It explains pretty well why they are that innovative…they attract all the best talents!

There is a clear link between the social footprint of a company and its financial situation. CSR was considered as a cost resulting from environmental and social laws. It is now a valuable investment that can have a clear impact on sales!

What if making good things could make your business grow? It changes everything.

“Be the change you want to see in the World”

 

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