How top companies are leaving their mark

Five strategies used by top companies to improve the world and have an influence.

The urgency of social and environmental issues is growing daily, causing societal changes that will have an effect on social and economic life in the future decades. Concurrently, firms are becoming more cognizant of the issue and are intensifying their efforts to confront these difficulties head-on.

Read More: Bruce Rabik

A review of the ways that top companies improve things

For the second in a series of Impact Talks, the Board of Innovation welcomed Melanie from Big Tree Global to talk about what it takes for businesses to positively impact the communities in which they operate. We focused on top businesses worldwide that are now creating a better society in order to learn about their best practices and trade secrets.

Get comfortable, go over the main takeaways from the discussion, and discover how your business may profit from the global lessons learned by positive-impact innovators.

The real way to solve the issue you’re trying to solve

A lot of companies start and implement social projects because they want to make a difference and do good. Every project should have as its central question: what works? Which intervention is effective, and how will it affect the people we are attempting to serve on a daily basis?

You must first have a thorough understanding of the issue you’re attempting to solve and how to do so in order to come up with the appropriate response to these questions.

The difficulties of attempting to do good

Let’s concentrate on the potential problems before examining how it might be solved. Choosing which decisions to prioritize may be tough. At what point does sustainability take precedence above shareholder return, and vice versa? Perhaps there is another topic to ask: how do you go beyond treating the symptoms?

Giving out free goods, for instance, can end up doing more harm than good. Consider the contributions of discarded clothes to Nigeria, which ultimately resulted in the job losses of 500,000 textile workers. Even the best-laid plans don’t always provide the desired results.

Five important takeaways from companies setting the standard for impact

Alright, let’s examine more closely at what the ideal function for companies may be. Are there any critical success aspects that we can learn from in order to improve going forward and prevent repeating previous errors? What distinguishes the numerous less effective impact methods from the excellent ones?

1. Resolving the underlying issue

Successful businesses focus more on treating the underlying cause of an issue than just its symptoms. Now let’s examine the Buy One Give One concept. Assume that for each pair of shoes a consumer purchases, you donate a pair to a person in need. What takes occur after that? Which issue has been resolved from the ground up?

Let’s now discuss Sole Rebels, the shoe brand in Africa that is expanding the quickest. Its leaders made the decision to go in a new direction. They establish production plants and give their employees fair compensation, enabling parents to choose whether to purchase food, antibiotics, or other necessities for their children, as well as shoes, if necessary.

This strategy seeks to combat poverty by enhancing livelihoods, but it also affects a number of other SDGs, including the abolition of child slavery, the decrease in hunger, the promotion of access to education, the acquisition of improved farming equipment, and others. It is an emancipatory strategy that targets the underlying source of the issue in a more comprehensive and long-lasting way.

2. Give justice precedence above almsgiving

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it’s an act of justice,” Nelson Mandela famously stated. What does it entail for companies, then?

To begin with, you must fairly recognize and honor each effort in order to generate value for all parties involved. This brings to mind the decent salaries that Tony’s Chocolonely pays to cocoa producers, as well as other emerging employee ownership models.

Secondly, you must provide equitable opportunities. This entails choosing inclusion and accessibility policies that help underserved areas and communities. In the global manufacturing chain, Coca-Cola offers chances tailored to the needs of women, while TOMS Shoes has established production facilities in places that are particularly in need.

Third, by developing and putting into practice a sustainable and circular company strategy, you just do no damage. Durable apparel and work-life balance policies from Patagonia, as well as Triodos Bank’s goal of only financing projects that benefit the environment, society, or culture, are examples.

3. Differentiating between profitable and unprofitable ventures…

While maximizing profits is a great motivator for companies, there are instances when raising revenue might be detrimental. How do you draw the line, though?

Cost-cutting measures may have detrimental effects on people and the environment, and poor design decisions as well as power struggles in supply chains may have a negative influence on workers and the environment.

One potential answer might be the increasingly popular As-A-Service model across all sectors. For instance, Schiphol Airport made the decision to stop purchasing lightbulbs. Instead, it and its original provider, Phillips, decided on a light-as-a-service structure. Since Phillips is now accountable for every lightbulb and kilowatt-hour of energy used at the airport, the firm has been forced to develop more energy-efficient products with interchangeable parts and extended lifespans.

4….and concentrating on the profitable drivers

The aforementioned example demonstrates how effective profit drivers may accelerate the growth of your business by eliminating wasteful spending, providing a compelling value proposition, running smoothly, and having a positive customer experience.

Is it not brilliant? In fact, studies from Harvard have demonstrated that the capacity to bring disparate ideas together is what distinguishes a genius. Similar to this, Aristotle claimed that virtue is found in weighing opposing viewpoints. The combination and balance you should aim for is striking a balance between profit drivers and fairness.

Let’s see how it plays out in real life. Using homelessness as an example, there are three options:

Open a restaurant for charity where you provide food to individuals one dish at a time.

Create and market a Homeless Street Magazine. This enables individuals to take care of themselves, improving their health and putting food on the table.

Alternatively, you might develop opportunities in line with consumer demand by producing goods that are well-built and based on the proper justice principle.

Brigade is one such establishment; it is a restaurant in London that trains homeless people in new skills, provides them with jobs, and helps them connect with other groups so they may help others do the same. This makes it possible for them to put food on the table, get a decent pay, improve their health, and promote more equality. Put simply, the effect is far more extensive.

According to research, businesses who take this approach have a 300–400% greater effect and a better commercial platform.

5. Recall that sustainability is a process.

Nothing can be accomplished all at once. There is a range between sustainability and good effect. What you really need to do is create a SMART impact strategy roadmap.

Commence with your concept for legacy.

Determine your starting point.

Determine the roadmap and priorities.

a summary of the main metrics

Customize your strategies and convey them.

By doing so, you’ll be able to address the underlying causes of the issues you’re trying to solve rather than missing opportunities to have a lasting influence toward good and sustainable goals.