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Socially-Focused Businesses: Beyond Profit

Lia Fialho

If you asked business leaders what they would consider a successful objective or mission to be, chances are their answers would revolve heavily around profit, and a company’s ability to financially outperform their competitors. However, we have recently seen many consumers take social responsibility into increased consideration, switching to brands with a cause and a purpose outside making a profit. More consumers are placing value in companies that are socially conscious and it is important to understand the benefits of creating a business dedicated to positive social impact.

Socially Responsible Consumers  

Consumers, especially millennials, are likely to spend more money on brands that demonstrate social responsibility or work for a cause. According to recent studies, this is true for approximately 70% of millennials. Not only are more consumers attracted to businesses dedicated to doing good, but they also are also more likely to remain loyal to these brands. For current consumers, authenticity matters and they want their money to go towards the greater good. 

As important as consumers are to a business, the importance of being socially responsible extends beyond them. It is not enough for businesses to claim that they are socially responsible, because consumers will see through superficial attempts to claim support of a cause. Their policies must match what they claim to value. Social responsibility must be woven into the fabric of the company, and it must be apparent in the ways they operate. Despite common perception, profit and purpose can both exist simultaneously within a company. 

Integration

Social responsibility goes beyond donations and fundraising. This mindset and action need to begin internally within the company through work structure and organization.  For example, if a company employs unethical labor practices, this will dilute whatever socially conscious mission they are trying to employ, and their motives will come off as contradictory and inauthentic. Thus, it is important that the first thing you work on is improvement within the company. Creating a positive work environment that values your employees through fair compensation and employee services and programs will enable growth within the company by creating a business that employees genuinely want to work for. It will also make achieving your objectives much smoother and simpler. 

Empathy and Ethics

When you look at some of the most prominent socially responsible businesses of today, you can pick out common themes that may help your business improve as well. The main focus of many of these successful companies is empathy and a desire to understand the issues facing our society today. While some of these companies may have not started out as social responsibility giants, they acknowledged the changes that needed to be made and shifted their objectives appropriately. One example of this is LEGO. Years ago, LEGO was pressured to end its longtime partnership with Shell Global due to the company’s plans to drill in the Arctic. After ending this partnership, LEGO then developed a series of new partnerships and business practices dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint through the implementation of renewable energy sources and environmentally friendly business practices. LEGO realized the negative impact they were having and adapted their business to limit this impact. So even if your company may not employ socially responsible practices at the moment, you still have time to make some changes and positively affect your community. 

Focusing Objectives

Transitioning to be a more socially responsible company can begin with a focus on a specific area; narrowing down the cause or impact you want to have will allow you to achieve your objectives with increased efficiency. Don’t take on too much at once, and instead focus your energy and time on one cause to begin. If you are looking for some inspiration, consider Ben and Jerry’s. The beloved ice cream brand has focused its attention on the use of Recombinant Bovine growth hormone in products and the negative impact this has on family farming. To help the Ben and Jerry’s community and family of farms, the company uses ingredients and packaging that benefit the family farm organization. Ben and Jerry’s also created grants that assist social justice programs. Even though their focus started with a small sector (the family farming industry) they have been able to leave a significant impact and help this desired target group. 

Make a Difference

You want your company to stand out, and you want to have a significant impact on your community. If you take away anything from this article, it’s to be authentic and consistent. Choose a cause that you and your employees are passionate about. Weave it into the company culture, and make it a priority. Despite the misconception that purpose and profit can’t exist simultaneously, they absolutely can. Working this cause and this purpose into your mission won’t damage the company’s financial standing. Instead, it will show your community and consumers that you are dedicated to the cause and that it is something the business as a whole is working towards. 

Be consistent in the programs and in the partnerships you create. These partnerships, along with the internal structure of your company, should align with your socially responsible objectives and mission statement. Look at businesses like LEGO and Ben and Jerry’s to see how they were able to create and sustain businesses dedicated to the greater good. All it takes is an idea and a passion; put the work in and you will see the widespread benefits that arise when you shift your business focus from profit to purpose. 

At Kuvio Creative, we want to support organizations that operate in order to advance a social cause which is why we have developed a discount program for socially-focused businesses and nonprofits. Learn more and get in touch with us here: www.kuv.io/changemakers.

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