Use your business for the greater good
Next month, the election should remind us of the opportunity we have to choose our leaders and share our voice with those seeking to govern. The right to vote is at the heart of our democratic system and it’s one of the best mechanisms for advancement in our country.
Every business also has the right and duty to be a constructive stakeholder in society and should work with government leaders to shape our collective landscape. Business can and should be a force for good.
Civic and corporate engagement is becoming an ever more important part of the business model, one that seeks not only to deliver value to customers but also demonstrates commitment to the market and provides purpose to employees. More corporations are engaging and supporting their employees in civic matters by providing them time to vote and volunteer, and offering resource groups to learn from.
This concept of corporate statesmanship has long existed within most organizations to varying degrees, but now it’s taking on a salience that can’t be ignored. The idea epresents an opportunity for businesses to add value beyond the bottom-line and after business hours.
While many companies publish their value proposition to customers, how many draft a value proposition to the communities they reside in? As more companies begin to think outside the office complex and measure or increase their roles in their communities, positive benefits can accrue.
We know consumers often gravitate toward brands that align with their beliefs or macro worldview, whether that’s stewardship of the environment, encouragement of voter participation, or simply giving back to parts of the community in need. Our state and republic can be enhanced through business support and encouragement, as well as by giving back to those who support us.
This can also be done without falling prey to the politicization of everything that resonates with special interest groups, the media, or politicians. There is more we have in common than is often reported, and companies can share their values and stances without making a political show over it.
While this approach is becoming more mainstream, it is not yet part of the traditional handbook when it comes to considering or measuring productivity. For example, are we doing enough for employee mental health during the pandemic, and what impact would that have on our business’ bottom line? Can we provide more access to leadership and mentorship for our younger cohort so their growth is exponential and not geometric? And what can we do to achieve genuine diversity and inclusion among those who may not feel total membership within our organizations?
As we start to measure these concepts internally, making necessary changes in culture and policy, we will move the needle on productivity, wellness, and civic engagement. We can do this by considering four strategic commitments related to our institutional framework, investment allocation, impact objectives, and integration. We should always ask the question: how does our company’s institutional framework set the stage for equality of opportunity and community engagement through its policy or incentive structure?
This will lead to consideration of how much your company is willing to donate in resources to build employee skills, leadership opportunities, and time off to volunteer and contribute to the community. Once these pieces of the puzzle start to form, it will become easier to measure social impact in real terms. By integrating these commitments into the company ethos at the cultural level, we can start to see how business functions not just in providing paychecks but paybacks to our communities.
I believe business can be one of the greatest forces for good in our society, offering constructive solutions to the problems we face. This optimized business model will be focused not only on consumers but on communities, not only on profits but people—building institutional bridges to opportunity over motes of inequality. The more intentional we become in building out this emergent model the more we will show our political and government leaders the way.