“People who want to make a difference in the world usually do it, one way or another.” Beth Clark
Without wishing to sound arrogant, I believe I was put on this Earth with the power to change it for the better; and therefore it’s my responsibility to do so. So I’m going to.
Let me qualify that. I believe we all were; that we share that responsibility and, whether we realise it or not, are doing our best to do just that.
Creating a legacy
We’re united by a common obsession; the creation of legacy. We work to create memories for ourselves and others, to be respected, to make a difference and to be valued. We educate our children to give them a future; we teach them manners and what’s right and wrong so that we may preserve our values and beliefs through generations. We want to be remembered well, we do our bit for charity and the environment, we’re prepared to fight for a just cause when necessary, protecting that which we value. Little things, everyday; little things which, when added together, change the world; and we do it unconsciously. It’s the way we live our lives. And that’s great.
But what if we did it consciously? What if, every day, we focused and measured our behaviour on improving the lives of others and saving the planet? What a difference we would make. How full and rewarding our lives would be, how great our legacy.
More significantly, what if we consciously made responsibility the cornerstone of our businesses? What could we achieve then? An effective Corporate Social Responsibility programme is no longer the preserve of big business and government. The big, grandiose schemes may be out of reach to the majority but remember it’s the small, incremental changes that make the difference.
We can and we should do this; but there’s more to it than doing good; it’s about doing good business. It’s a strategy.
Brand is everything
The consumer landscape has changed. We care less about having, we care more about experience and impact. You see it every day. The recent episode of Cecil the Lion is a case in point, with airlines clamouring to be recognised for disassociation from the perceived evils of hunting. Brand, the manifestation of expectation and association, is everything; we align ourselves with companies that reflect our values and beliefs that understand our concerns and behave accordingly. We live in a world of immediacy and mobile moments; we are inundated with messages from the moment we wake until the moment we go to sleep. Branding has become behavioural and doing good and being good have become basic requirements. Irresponsible capitalism is no longer forgivable. In a world where so many things appear to be the same, responsibility can be a key differentiator. Sometimes it’s the only way to ascend above the noise.
Irrespective of size, the creation of good corporate culture is key. Make responsibility the seedbed of your ARM (Attraction, Retention and Motivation) project. Committing and uniting your colleagues, employees and customers to working together to improve the world we live in will ultimately help you build the business you want. It’ll be fun too. And it’ll make you attractive.
Show your leadership
Sustainable businesses are good businesses. Less waste means lower costs, lower costs mean greater efficiency creating increased profit and higher value. A business for today is only worth so much, but a business for tomorrow is a horse of a different colour.
With responsibility comes leadership. For your business, your colleagues, your customers and the community you serve; and with leadership comes higher social currency. You can take centre stage for all the right reasons. You can make a difference. You can be a “best loved” brand and, in this world of increasing comparison, that might be the difference.
So, I urge you, structure your business responsibly. Look at what you can do to embed a responsibility and sustainability culture within your company. Involve your staff, change behaviours, measure the benefits. Find a cause and fight for it; go beyond “doing stuff for charity”. Assess your sponsorships. Who do they benefit? What could you do better? Create a Footprint Leadership Strategy; identify a local problem that you and other businesses can collectively do something about. Work with them to make a better environment for living and working. Solve problems for people. Do what you can to educate future generations of customers. Raise awareness of health issues. Promote vitality and wellbeing. Create and support workplace and business opportunity. Improve the lives of your customers. Improve the lives of people who can never be your customers. Build your business legacy. And enjoy it.
It won’t half make a difference.
Please note: This is written in a personal capacity and reflects the view of the author. It does not necessarily reflect the view of Sense Network Limited. The post has been checked and approved to ensure that it is both accurate and not misleading. However, this is a blog and the reader should accept that by its very nature many of the points are subjective and opinions of the author.