This year, the media has unearthed a lot of unscrupulous and unethical business tactics by large corporate entities and household names many of us know. This is alarming, and it also raises the question: is the truly ethical business a fairytale? And if not, then how does an ethical business compete in a world full of corporate fraud and unfair practices?
Navigating your business in a world full of conflicting messages and constant negative news is difficult and even painstaking at times, but it can be done, something that a few exceptional entrepreneurs and corporations have demonstrated.
In a webinar lecture given by Professor Larry Parnell of George Washington University, corporate social responsibility is central to strategic public relations moves and it also plays an increasingly important role in our society.
There isn’t any one way to make a difference and grow your business, so it’s important that you take a good look at your particular niche and ask yourself what you can do.
Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS
In 2006, Blake Mycoskie went on a fateful trip to Argentina. Toward the end of his trip, he met an American woman who worked with a shoe charity who would go on to tell him about the problem her charity often ran into: they rarely had enough shoes for the children. After spending a few days travelling from village to village with the woman and her group, Blake decided he wanted to make a difference. But how?
Eventually, he came up with an idea for a for-profit business that centered on the “one for one” principle, or that for every pair of shoes sold, a pair of shoes would be given to children in need. In the span of one summer, TOMS became a major hit; the company had several retailers, was written about in The Los Angeles Times (where TOMS made headlines), Vogue, Teen Vogue, Time, People and Elle and sold 10,000 pairs of shoes. All of this he did secretly in his apartment with nothing more than three interns. So far, over 10 million pairs of shoes have been donated to children.
Mycoskie went on to create similar business models with a focus on humanitarian efforts. TOMS eyewear, utilizing the same goal he had for his shoe line, only focusing on helping to restore people’s eyesight rather than supply them with a pair of shoes.
He also created TOMS Roasting Company, where for every bag of coffee sold, they provide one week’s worth of clean water to a person in need.
Making a difference is powerful.
Hand In Hand Soap
Started by married couple Courtney and Bill Glaab, who wanted to start a business that would be focused on sustainable charity, Hand in Hand Soap is making strides in the world of corporate philanthropy. Similar to the TOMS one-for-one principle, for every one bar of soap sold they give another bar and a month of clean water to children in need.
Related Article: More Interested in Making a Difference Than Profits?
They first became inspired for Hand in Hand when they came across an article highlighting that every year over 5 million people die from lack of clean water and improper hygiene.
Setting out on a mission to save lives, they took it a step even further by ensuring their products were eco-friendly, made from sustainable material and harvested with ethical treatment.
The Benefits of Making a Difference
Your company doesn’t need to base its entire business model off of humanitarian efforts the way that TOMS has, but finding some way to implement philanthropy into your culture can be hugely beneficial for several reasons:
- Gain recognition in your industry
- Free publicity that will help get your company name out there
- Create a positive image and reinforce that your brand is trustworthy
- Strengthens employee satisfaction and helps them feel as if they’re a part of something meaningful
- Tax breaks for businesses that donate or give to charities
- Strengthen the bond between team members through group efforts
- You can network and meet contacts who share the same values as your company and who might be an asset later down the road
- You have the opportunity to change someone’s life for the better and someday, they might just pay it forward and decide to help another person, effectively creating a positive cycle of giving back
How Your Business Can Make a Difference
There are a lot of ways that your business can make a difference, whether that’s in the world or within your local community. Here are just a few ideas:
- Food drive
- Fundraiser picnic
- Wear-Your-Jeans-To-Work for 1$ day
- Take a day to volunteer at a food kitchen
- Clothing donations
- Visit senior-citizens at a nursing home as a team
- Rake leaves for elderly in the nearest neighborhood
- Pick up trash from a local park
- Start a canned goods drive
- Host a themed company dinner party
- Plant a garden or trees
- Partner up with your local animal shelter or donate blankets and food for animals in need
- Start or encourage participation in a charity marathon or race
- Create incentive programs for your employees to volunteer in the community
- Offer VTO or paid time off for volunteering
The list goes on and on and really depends on what fits you as a brand and as a group of people.
Is Your Brand Ready?
If your company needs a positive change or even just a way to help team members bond, then consider the positives of making a difference. You never know what powerful effect you and your business can have on the world around you. You don’t need to let your company be lumped into the unethical corporate umbrella that so many other businesses are already lumped into.
Don’t be afraid to be different or to stand out in your niche- especially for something positive!
Author: A.D. Vuittonet is a writer and entrepreneur with a background in executive leadership and small business startups, and her biggest passion is her love for sharing inspiration and motivation with other entrepreneurs. She’s been published on Techcrunch, Brazen, Financesonline, Moneyminiblog, Careertopia and more! Feel free to contact her at A.D.Vuittonet@gmail.com