What is the primary purpose of business? Most would probably say to make a profit. We won’t blame you if you did, but we’d have to disagree. The socially uncaring attitudes of businesses are quickly becoming a thing of the past and, instead, corporations are gaining a social conscience. Companies and organizations of all shapes and sizes are following this trend, protecting the environment, encouraging a diverse workforce, and contributing to community groups that support various causes.
At Saxum, we’re committed to making an impact because we know obsession changes the world. We argue that brands and marketers today have a more significant responsibility than just selling for profit. In fact, we believe we all have an obligation to be obsessed for good, which we’ve translated into five tenets:
- Think all stakeholders, not just shareholders
- Take a stand
- Focus on impact
- Liberate your leaders
- Unite, don’t divide
1. Think all stakeholders, not just shareholders
Times are changing, and businesses’ sole purpose is no longer just to generate profit for shareholders. Instead, companies and organizations are now thinking about the big picture–how all stakeholders are engaged.
We know it’s vital for businesses to operate responsibly and sustainably–because it’s the right thing to do and because it benefits all stakeholders. It’s also just good business that drives profit. Today’s socially responsible companies seek to protect the environment, uplift and support their employees, and donate time and money to causes they feel are valuable to society. They’re committed to furthering the well-being of their communities and the environment by the way they operate, through their investments, and through the leadership they provide.
Kip Tindell, co-founder and CEO of The Container Store, says that an organization’s culture defines its personality. Happy employees serve customers better, which leads to content and returning customers. When thinking for all shareholders, these long-term relationships have win-win outcomes. Don’t ignore shareholder returns, or you will find it challenging to attract investors and remain in business.
2. Good brands take a stand
Businesses and their brands have immense power to influence people and create positive outcomes. They already understand their consumers and the issues that motivate and impact their lives for the common good. Given that virtually everyone can access anything from anywhere at any time, you must do more than just sell. To keep customers engaged and returning time and again, you must provide an excellent product, a top-notch experience, and make them feel their hard-earned income is doing good. Consumers will evaluate your words and actions carefully, especially if the cause you’re backing is something they’re passionate about. These social programs and other causes are meaningful to people, so make sure your motives are pure and take a stand on an issue that’s truly important to you.
Taking a genuine stand on issues creates an emotional connection with customers. Not only are these organizations aiding causes that consumers believe in, but they’re also creating an image of moral and ethical strength. This keeps customers engaged–new customers are encouraged to take a second look at the brand, and existing ones keep coming back to support the causes they feel are important.
3. Focus on impact
Measuring progress is nothing new. However, most companies are focused on themselves to some degree when sharing insights on success, often reinforcing how their accomplishments helped improve their bottom line.
While it’s essential to understand if an advertising strategy generates leads, a new product sells, or an employee program increases team member retention, there are many opportunities for businesses to expand their vision and create a significant and profound impact.
Business leaders today must understand that their organization operates as a member of many communities, from local neighborhoods to cities and even to our entire nation and planet. So, what new results should businesses be trying to achieve today? What more considerable impacts should a brand attempt to create? Answering questions like these can transform the conversation in the boardroom, moving the needle from measuring progress in a few defined areas to achieving meaningful, measurable results that impact both the bottom line and society.
- Economic impact: Initiatives can gain direct monetary benefits from your efforts or investments.
- Social impact: Initiatives benefit society by bringing people together, improving their lives, or reducing problems.
- Environmental impact: Initiatives help improve the environment, including offsetting carbon emissions, cleaning up pollution, or planting trees.
- Policy impact: Initiatives may work to change government or corporate policies and procedures, like an initiative to create more funding to care for public parks.
Understanding these four impacts will allow you to gain support more effectively within your business and the community. By pursuing and implementing strategies that can do good for people, the environment, and other outcomes, you can also improve your standing in the community, your brand, and the service you deliver to your customers.
4. Liberate your leaders
Being obsessed for good is hard. Standing for something without dividing takes strategy. Obsessed for good companies are intentional about shaping culture, which means they deliberately develop leaders worth following.
Every company has a culture that’s directly linked to how it addresses the growth of its people. Culture can happen accidentally or intentionally, requiring a new generation of leadership that sees the big picture and empowers their people to do good.
For the past decade, Saxum has worked with GiANT Worldwide, the creators of the term “liberating leaders,” to coach and train our team members in an intentional way that brings out the best in our culture while also bringing out the best in them. GiANT’s philosophy is to help companies develop “leaders worth following.” True leaders are worth following because they inspire, encourage, and challenge others to achieve their best. This kind of leader is liberating — a leader others want to follow, not just have to follow. Leaders who intentionally cultivate such an environment fight for good in every circle of their influence, whether with family, friends, teams, organizations, or the community.
5. Unite, don’t divide
People often identify themselves as members of a single group: American, mother, worker, etc. In reality, people exist in various groups and communities at once. Grouping people up and targeting them with divisive content is easy. It’s like eating junk food–satisfying in the short term but terrible for the body long-term. In reality, there are far more commonalities between people than differences. People can’t (and shouldn’t) be siloed.
At the end of the day, it’s about brands being intentional. Marketers have a role to play in curing this unintentional siloing of communities. People are different; they have different opinions, backgrounds, cultures, and belief systems. So it would help if you chose to be curious about what these diverse communities have in common. From there, you can find the magnetism at your brand’s core to bring together various groups of people, supporting the common good while making a reasonable profit. We are all humans, and by communicating with each other intelligently and compassionately, we can learn to accept our differences as strengths rather than weaknesses or threats.
At the same time, fighting for unity doesn’t mean taking the middle ground every time or ignoring your principles to avoid making people upset. Working with different communities and groups of people to support the common good is a challenging way of thinking. Still, it can be far more fulfilling, profitable, and better for everyone in the long haul.
By this point, you probably know you want to commit to good work, good leadership, good causes, and good purpose. Of course, any true obsession for good is the result of countless people’s hard work and passion, but it can start with just one person who takes the time to be intentional and focused. You can read more about how to get started in our free book.
Where passion and purpose collide, we can make a real difference. So, where are you in your ‘obsessed for good’ journey? First, take our five-minute assessment below to evaluate your business. Then, you’ll be provided with a customized report, including actionable insights to help achieve a greater good for both business and society.