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Five reasons to build social impact into your business strategy

Filed in Business Strategy

Teresa Coles

As one who lives to help organizations align success and social good, Teresa has shaped purpose-driven brands at the firm for more than 20 years. She’s known for her ability to help clients artfully leverage organizational health, business strategy and brand marketing to their advantage. As co-founder of CreateAthon, she has led the program’s transition from a single-market event to a global service network that has delivered more than $24 million in pro bono marketing services to the nonprofit marketplace.

Chances are good your business is one to be counted among the multitudes experiencing good success in the marketplace. You may have led a highly efficient enterprise over several years, with products, services and customer service experiences that have built a positive reputation and a healthy bottom line. With a record like that, why consider layering social impact into your business strategy? What difference could it make in helping your company achieve even greater success over time? 

Let’s start by talking about what social impact is, how we’re all connected to it, and what’s at risk when we — as leaders — fail to recognize the power of this dynamic in our organizations. Here are five basic (and yet profound) reasons for embedding social impact into your organization’s culture and planning: 

1. Social impact is about people. Defined in its most simple business terms, social impact is the pursuit to make life better. While we may tend to think of such things as enterprise-level and applying more appropriately to multinational firms, nothing could be further from the truth. Social impact is about looking at where and how your business can meet a human need and how that work can be scaled. 

2. People are hardwired to care. It’s in our DNA to treat others with consideration and to ask for the same in return. So it stands to reason we are drawn to others who share this most basic value. Whether it’s choosing to work for one employer instead of another, supporting a particular retailer over another, or choosing Brand X vs. Brand Y, people naturally want to align themselves with others who care. 

3. Employees won’t come — and they won’t stay — if they don’t feel connected. If we learned anything in this last year of COVID, it’s that humans have an undeniable need to connect with other humans. Shared experiences, common ground and common pursuits create for us a sense of belonging and purpose that is vital for healthy living. The same is true within a company’s culture. Working with others toward a common goal unites and satisfies us, particularly when that work makes a positive difference. It’s one of the most powerful reasons social impact matters.

 4. People want to be part of something bigger. This is true of customers and employees alike, and it’s why a commitment to social good—and the public demonstration of that commitment — can take a company from good to great. 

5. People want to see a path forward. We all want to envision a brighter day ahead, one in which we can see ourselves learning, growing and benefiting from people who inspire us, be that friends, colleagues, employers or the brands we support. We want to lend our hearts, talent and wallets to those people and organizations in whom we believe and who are working every day to explore how their business can impact people’s lives. 

So how do you define what social impact means to your organization, and how do you build it into your business strategy? Start with a Business Impact Matrix. It’s one of many tools included in our Responsible Brand Toolkit, available for free download at www.responsiblebrand.com.

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