The Business Case for Being a Force for Good
Working in the health insurance industry right after college was eye-opening. I saw firsthand the unfeeling way businesses can treat people, even a business that is supposed to work with healers. By focusing only on the bottom line, people were suffering, crying over procedures and treatments they or their children needed but that they could not afford. It took a huge toll on my own mental health.
I know I can’t fix healthcare. But I can align myself with businesses that seek to be a force for good in the world, and I’ve done that by working for YUI+Company. That’s not a plug, just a fact. I come to work every day with joy and purpose, which makes me a more engaged and productive employee. Evolving business into a force for good makes perfect sense.
From a purely PR standpoint, engaging in a socially responsible mission can help your audience see you in a positive light and make them feel more engaged with your company. They may be inclined to purchase your product or mention you on social media, and you may even capture some media attention! However, good deeds alone cannot be a PR strategy; it has to be rooted in something bigger than positive headlines and upbeat tweets. Savvy consumers can see through greenwashing and empty charity. Chasing profits has to be balanced with a deeper purpose. If you’re not doing good, how can you do well?
Employees need to be engaged with doing good: they need to want it, and not just for the social capital that comes with volunteering or donating. Align your organization with employees that hold the same the values and ideas your company holds dear. This makes the socially responsible efforts a natural extension of an employee’s life, rather than an obligation they must fulfill to maintain good standing. If they’re enjoying the social responsibility program, they’ll naturally want to amplify their efforts on social media, which also helps build your company’s brand in an authentic way.
When you do embark on making your business into a force for good, you have to show results. How you measure these results is truly dependent on who you are reporting to, such as shareholders, the C-suite or consumers…and yourselves. Tailoring these reports to resonate over shared values and tangible metrics will have the most impact.
Pivoting from purely business to a triple bottom line isn’t easy, but it can be done, and everyone from the CEO to the consumer reaps the benefits. Not only does it make smart business sense, it makes sense for the world, especially in times when the government does not seem capable of tackling what many Americans consider to be key issues. It has been left up to business to be the change, and consumers are rewarding that embrace of values-based leadership with their wallets.