Much has changed in the business world in the past decade. Social uprisings, a global pandemic, a shift to remote work, and the Great Resignation have altered the landscape of corporate America. The new world of business keeps an eye not only on profits but also on people and purpose. The pervasive idea is now building sustainable businesses that properly align profit-building with purposeful action.
To foster a sustainable business model, businesses must foster a corporate culture built around purpose and responsibility — to one’s employees, to consumers or clients, to one’s community, and to the world. Companies that prioritize working with purpose contribute positively to the societal and environmental good while building stronger, more resilient organizations. In an ever-evolving market, aligning a more significant purpose with a profit-based business positions the business to be a force for positive change, enhances brand and employee loyalty, and ensures greater longevity.
The importance of corporate social responsibility
A greater focus has fallen on corporate social responsibility, especially since the historic civil rights uprisings of the Summer of 2020 and the upheaval of the pandemic. Most companies on the S&P 500 index have taken to publishing corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports to show shareholders and consumers that it’s a priority. According to studies, 70% of Americans believe it’s important that companies make the world a better place in some way, shape, or form.
Even if a business isn’t publishing a formal CSR report, its commitment to CSR can still make a significant difference. It is a holistic approach to business sustainability that stretches far beyond financial gains and bottom lines.
With a dedicated CSR approach, businesses can count on an enhanced reputation and brand image. Companies that engage in meaningful CSR initiatives build a positive reputation and earn the trust of not only consumers but their own employees and the community. A strengthened brand image can help companies weather downturns, steeling them against future challenges that could bring other businesses down.
A robust CSR approach can also help businesses mitigate risks, such as environmental disasters, regulatory issues, or public scrutiny. With quickly pivoting expectations, companies with a finger on the pulse of corporate social responsibility can more easily shift.
In addition, as the Great Resignation continues, robust CSR initiatives help companies attract and retain top talent. In a recent study, 93% of respondents said it was important that their employer was a company that “led with purpose,” illustrating that corporate social responsibility is a significant factor when people choose where to work.
CSR is a strategic imperative for any business seeking longevity and sustainability. With thoughtful CSR, companies can align their mission and values with those of the community, consumers, and the community, promote ethical practices, and position the business well to thrive in a world where CSR is becoming a “must,” not simply a “nice to have.”
Ensuring employee satisfaction
In recent years, one of the biggest hurdles for businesses has been attracting and retaining quality employees. Many employees demand their workplaces pay close attention to social responsibility, ethical practices, and diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives (DEI). To ensure employee satisfaction, companies need to ensure they are listening to the desires of employees and job seekers and matching their values.
Purposeful corporate social responsibility initiatives should create a supportive work environment that aligns with the pervasive values of today’s workers. For example, many companies are promoting better work/life balance by switching to a 4-3 schedule, which many workers with more demanding personal schedules appreciate.
Employees should be involved in the creation of purposeful initiatives. Leadership should be asking for feedback and applying the valuable feedback they receive. By participating in creating a culture of purpose in the workplace, employees will feel that their input is valued and will begin to see the changes they wish to see within the organization.
CSR initiatives need to have measurable metrics. Employees who emerge as leaders in the move towards corporate purpose should be recognized for their contributions. Communication should be open to sharing the good coming from robust initiatives with the entire company.
Business as a source of good
The business world can often get a bad rap. Big businesses that take advantage of employees or communities, businesses that were once “too big to fail” that failed (often miserably so), or businesses that have ignored the good that could come from corporate social responsibility tend to ruin the vision of the corporate world for other businesses. However, businesses that move forward with a dedication to being a source of good will triumph in the end.
Whether your business is simply focusing on CSR metrics or practicing “conscious capitalism,” it involves integrating social and environmental responsibility into one’s values, mission, and company’s operation. Businesses that operate as a source of good make a tangible impact on society as a whole. One example is Johnson & Johnson, whose initiatives to lower the infant mortality rate and support universal healthcare have placed them high on the list of companies with the most social impact.
Businesses that wish to be a source for good have a purpose-driven mission that places people and the environment above profits. However, as is often the case, the profits will follow if the purpose is authentic, meaningful, and impactful. Consumers will trust the company, and employees will want to stay with the organization and help it grow and thrive.
Aligning purpose and profits with corporate social responsibility is not just a trend but a transformative force that has reshaped the business landscape as we know it. As businesses further understand the interwoven connectedness between profitability and purpose, more will embrace this approach. Only then will the corporate world begin to pivot from one solely focused on profit maximization to one doing good for the world first and letting the profit follow the purpose.
Asim Hafeez is the Owner & Operator of Empower Energy Solutions.