Yes, we have the power to create profit, but we can also inspire permanent change.
5 min read
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In today’s work environment, it’s no longer enough to simply bring home a paycheck. In a survey of millennial and Gen-Z workers conducted by Deloitte, three-quarters of those interviewed said they believe that multinational corporations are in a position to solve the vasty array of economic, social and environmental challenges facing the world.
The importance of companies having strong values and a positive impact on society is further illustrated in MetLife’s “Role of the Company” survey, which reveals that the average employee would actually be willing “to take a 21 percent pay cut to work for a company with values aligned with theirs.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that many of the most successful entrepreneurs are those who have strived to make a difference — or even start a movement — with their work. The added sense of purpose motivates employees, attracts like-minded customers and gives you the drive you need to succeed.
Of course, movements aren’t born out of nothing. The good news is that no matter what industry you’re in, you can take these steps to make a difference.
1. Start giving back early on.
During the early days of your startup, you might find yourself crunched for cash. When you’re worried about making a profit, it can be hard to think of ways you can give back. But in reality, your movement-building efforts should still be at the forefront.
One example of this principle in action is the Pledge 1 Percent initiative, which encourages corporations to pledge 1 percent of their equity, time, product or profit to charitable causes. It’s a manageable amount to give that is based on what your startup can afford at the moment, and will help lay the foundation for future positive work.
2. Define your desired social impact.
To create a movement-oriented mindset in your workplace, you must start by clearly defining your desired social impact. Choose a cause that is meaningful to you and your team; one that will provide motivation and a clear vision to everyone involved in your startup. Starting with your desired impact in mind will help guide core decisions in the future.
In an interview with Business Collective, Analiese Brown of ShipCompliant notes, “Social good should become an outcome of what you’re trying to build, rather than an afterthought. What is the fundamental belief that drives your business? If you can get clear on why you do what you do at that very basic level, it becomes easier to see how you can achieve social good as an extension of your product and brand.”
3. Link product and impact.
Movement-building efforts will tend to have the greatest impact when you can create a clear connection between your products or services and your cause. The stronger the link, the easier it will be to create a passionate movement around what you do, among both employees and customers.
One example of this is Ridecell, a ridesharing company that uses electric vehicles and operates with the goal of reducing the high emissions produced through vehicle ownership. A case study conducted by the company determined that on average, a single shared car can replace seven-to-12 privately owned autos. Thus far, the brand’s efforts have resulted in a reduction of nearly 20,000 cars on the roads in the U.S. alone. Based on EPA estimates, that would remove approximately 92,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year.
Finding the link and then communicating it through case studies and marketing materials will help spread the word and foster enthusiasm.
4. Integrate the movement in daily work life.
While the majority of workers want to be in a company that makes a positive impact on the world, seeing this impact on a day-to-day basis isn’t always easy. Entrepreneurs need to ensure that their movement is fully engrained in the startup’s culture. It should be infused in messaging, workplace roles and responsibilities and meetings. Employees should be actively encouraged to look for ways to further support the brand movement.
When employees take initiative in these efforts, it can have a major impact on your startup’s results. A report from Your Cause found that companies with a corporate social-responsibility initiative in place enjoyed 13 percent greater productivity and a 50 percent reduction in turnover rates.
5. Foster meaningful partnerships.
Movements are rarely achieved by a single person or organization. Many of the most successful movements come through partnerships between like-minded groups and individuals. Entrepreneurs seeking to make a difference should look for nonprofits and even other corporations who can join in their cause.
Pooling resources can help world-changing efforts go much farther than if you were to try to do everything on your own. A report from The Guardian found that 90 percent of charities and their corporate partners felt that their partnerships delivered value and helped them meet objectives. Sharing resources, networks and people will fuel far greater growth for your movement.
Whether you aim to support a local cause in your community or create a movement on a global scale, your initiatives and goals matter. When you use your company to showcase your values and inspire others, you will be able to find economic success while also making a difference in the areas where it matters most.