Doing well by doing good
Today many consumers factor in a business’s social responsibility credentials when deciding on where to spend their money. Fiona Clark explains why it’s time to match their expectations. Business is changing and so are customer expectations. We might think most buying decisions are based on price, however there are many other factors which influence the […]
Today many consumers factor in a business’s social responsibility credentials when deciding on where to spend their money.
Fiona Clark explains why it’s time to match their expectations.
Business is changing and so are customer expectations. We might think most buying decisions are based on price, however there are many other factors which influence the purchasing behaviour of your clients.
Consumers are demanding more. Not only do they want great products and services, but they also want great companies to buy from, and one of the key things that can matter to them is: social responsibility.
Why is this important? Customers want to feel good about the businesses they deal with. They want to know that companies stand for more than just making money. Paying it forward and doing good is not just for large corporates – as small to medium enterprises (SMEs) we must step up and do our bit too.
I believe that in business we need to be good to people, to do the right thing and have a positive impact on others. It’s important to build a good reputation, be known for the right reasons, and be honest, transparent, and authentic. And while not everyone may operate to these high standards 100 percent of the time, all that matters is how you operate your business.
If you’re thinking, that sounds good but doesn’t really impact me – think again. This is also good for your business, your sales and your brand.
If it matters to your clients, it should matter to you
Today when it comes to buying, many clients are doing their homework. They check labels before making a decision to purchase, look at websites for information on a business, pay attention to public opinion of specific brands on social media, and want to see if products are ethically sourced and environmentally friendly, etcetera.
Consumers make conscious decisions of what companies to support; they choose where they spend their money, and have the opportunity to bring change by the products they consume and the brands they buy from.
This can also impact your business when you think about who are buying your products or services, and a good number of these may very well be millennials.
Social and environmental contribution and ‘doing good’ is important to millennials – who will make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, according to the Future of Business Citizenship research report1. It would be interesting to review the demographics of your client base, and really be aware of who your clients are now. Attention also needs to be paid to who your clients will be in the future, so you can continue to grow for years to come.
Not only is it important for millennials, but research shows more than half of online consumers around the world (66 percent) are willing to pay more for products and services from socially and environmentally responsible companies2. And while it may be hard to compete with large companies based on price, if your business is more socially responsible and authentic, this gives customers another good reason to buy from you.
What can you introduce to your business?
Environmental efforts: One primary focus of social responsibility is the environment. Businesses, regardless of size, can aim to become more environmentally friendly. This may be in practical everyday tasks and internal policies. And for consumers it’s about a choice of packaging, reducing single-use plastic, printing marketing material on recycled paper, and so on.
Philanthropy: Businesses can practice social responsibility by donating money, products or services to social causes, a ‘buy one, give one’ business model, supporting not-for-profits and charities, and local community and sports groups.
Volunteering: Donating time and expertise to organisations that align with your business values. Some companies may dedicate a day each quarter for a specific cause, or give employees the choice to volunteer for a cause that is important to them. This not only benefits the charity or organisation of choice, but also has huge benefits to employees and the culture of the business.
Another benefit that has a direct impact on business is, it matters to employees! If you are wanting to attract high quality staff and build a positive, engaged team, then this is another example of how being socially responsible is good for your business. Forward thinking companies are leveraging this as a recruitment tool. They know a company’s commitment to the community and ‘doing good’ in business influences candidates’ decision to work there.
Small actions make a difference
It doesn’t take a big budget to contribute, we can all do this in some small way.
I remember deciding in my first year of business to set up an automatic payment each month and commit to one of my favourite charities. This is still going nine years later and it’s nice to get the updates to see the difference it makes to Kiwi kids.
I also feel privileged to have joined the board of not-for-profit Dress for Success in Auckland. We help vulnerable women gain employment and financial independence, through interview dressing services, workshops, teaching new skills for job seekers, and mentoring and support.
In addition I’m involved with the Venus Businesswomen’s Network which has charity status. They are the largest network of women in New Zealand and comprises of nationwide networking groups, training programmes via the Venus Academy and helping support women in small business to be successful.
As business owners, we are busy managing and growing our companies, and sometimes it can take all our focus just getting through the week. Imagine if we all did one small thing to make a difference to others. I’m not talking about big expensive or time consuming tasks at a significant cost to your business. I mean smaller, practical options that are ‘doable’ for your company – whether it’s buying fair trade coffee for staff, donating product to a local school, recycling more in the office, volunteering in your community, mentoring someone and helping them become successful, or donating money to a charity of your choice.
From a business perspective, it can encourage customers to buy from you, help employees feel pride in the company they work for, there are tax benefits, and you can feel good about it at the same time!
If we all contribute in some small way, we can create powerful change for others and ourselves. Because in the end: we Do Well, when we Do Good.