“What if instead of competing to be the best IN the world, companies strived to be the best FOR the world?”
“Business is a force for good” is the first of seven commitments we made to create the future we yearn for when we started Blue Beyond Consulting ten years ago. We asked the Blue Beyond team the question below, to highlight our experiences with this concept. From consumer brands you know like TOMS Shoes and Target, to B Corporations such as WhiteWave Foods, our team gave us their favorite examples of organizations committed to remind all of us that, at their core, business systems are human systems.
Aside from Blue Beyond, what are some examples where you’ve experienced ‘business is a force for good’ first-hand? It can be in your client work or an every-day personal experience.
Christina Schünemann: Our client Danone is a B Corp with a clearly articulated manifesto that commits them to helping people have access to healthier foods. They are also committed to becoming a zero carbon footprint company by 2025. When very large corporations “do the right thing”, their reach is unparalleled.
Carrie Krehlik: I’ve worked for a number of companies where business is a force for good. When working for Ericsson, the focus on delivering wireless technology in developing countries allowed people the freedom to build businesses and communicate broadly. When working for a number of small biotech companies (InterMune, Inc. or Hyperion Therapeutics), the value that a life changing or life-extending therapeutic drug can bring to individuals with orphan diseases cannot be put into words.
Sarah Hill: Business systems are, at their core, human systems. Erin and I recently had worked with a telecom company, in which we devised a team RACI to support building a more effective team muscle. We also had the opportunity to introduce this team to Insights Discovery Tool. During the meeting, I was sincerely moved by the team’s willingness and openness to more deeply engage with themselves and their fellow teammates…finding ways to empathize with one another by reflecting on how their personal styles could either support or perhaps pose challenges for connection and understanding. When businesses’ support their employees’ growth and self-awareness, we invariably build more conscious and intentional workplaces. And while this translates to greater organizational health at work, I truly believe it benefits all facets of the human experience beyond just the professional domain.
Whitney Grabowski: WhiteWave Foods has created a culture that really embodies this idea and it’s only reinforced by the acquisition by Danone.
Caitlin Strauss Corda: For me, the first thing that comes to mind is patronage.org — the company that my husband founded. He fundamentally believes in the triple-bottom-line and that these days, employees are looking to contribute and make a meaningful difference in and outside of work (and that this can be a great way to attract and retain top talent! even for small businesses).
Grethen Hoover Anderson: Goodshop, the coupon site, has a model that is based on giving back to the charity of a consumer’s choice. It is based on Salesforce’s 1:1:1 integrated philanthropy business model. As Salesforce asks, “What if all companies integrated giving back into their business model?”
Jenna Miraglia: My favorite initiative to be a part of during my time at SAP was our Autism at Work program which aimed to add 650 adults on the autism spectrum to IT roles by 2020, bringing in an untapped talent pool to the workplace and furthering innovation.
Erin Wilgus: Our nonprofit clients such as ChangeLab Solutions that provides community-based solutions for America’s most common and preventable diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and asthma and Not For Sale, that aims to end human trafficking and forced labor are great examples of organizations that are doing work as a force for good. Fortune Magazine’s “Change the World” list is a helpful tool to research businesses that are a force for good. Also, see the Force for Good Awards and The Case Foundation’s list.
Mary Hettinger: Many of our tech clients’ innovations enable progress in many areas of society. For example, the healthcare advances made possible by “big data” analysis.
Sara Altizer: A company I admire as being a true force for good is PACT. They produce organic cotton clothing and are committed to putting people first. They are focused on changing an industry that has been historically dirty, unethical (using forced labor / child labor / sweatshops), and toxic. PACT cares deeply about the planet, the farmers, and the factory workers. Organic, fair trade products cost more, and, in my opinion, they’re worth every penny — I choose to spend my money to support companies that don’t exploit people or our planet. And bonus, the clothes are super soft!!
Aimee Ellis: Nutanix has a program that supports the hiring and development of female web coders — a fantastic, mutually beneficial initiative!
Liana Randazzo: In our support of eBay as a client, I’ve been really inspired by the work that they do — providing a platform that creates opportunity for all. I’ve heard from people with career-ending injuries who found their next chapter selling on eBay, grandparents who retired early to enjoy extra time with their grandkids and still have a steady stream of income by selling part time on eBay, and so many more amazing stories. eBay also helps the environment by encouraging people to extend the life of items by re-selling the rather than throwing them away. I was also super proud to hear that we’re helping another one of our clients become a B Corp. I remember when I first learned about B Corps in grad school — I thought it was such a powerful statement a company could make. It’s amazing to explore the list of companies that are balancing profit with purpose!
Lori Brandi: I’ve always been inspired by social entrepreneurship or companies not so much focused on making a profit but truly caring and dedicating themselves to advancing social, cultural or environmental causes. TOMS Shoes comes to mind (which I wear and continue to buy loyally). I’m grateful for the opportunity I had to support a client’s Community Engagement program. I helped launch a volunteer platform, shared stories of employees giving back, and saw up close the difference they made in the lives of children in areas high at risk for human trafficking. It gave more meaning and purpose to my work. It makes you realize the enormous potential and resources companies have to make an impact and bring about powerful, lasting, positive change. It’s refreshing to see this idea spreading to corporate america, although much more can and needs to be done.
Lili Polastri: Dean’s Beans! Learning about this business many years ago was really what changed my perspective on for-profit business. Dean Cycon has built a successful business in the Fair Trade coffee industry while making a huge impact on the lives of coffee farmers in developing countries around the world. I also see the impact that large companies who aren’t directly built on service are able to have through corporate giving (e.g. Juniper Foundation). And at Thermo Fisher, I’m inspired by the way the Employee Communications team is dedicated to showing colleagues how important their work is toward fueling life saving medicine and technologies. This impacts the company’s ability to help more customers (save lives) as well as enhancing the fulfillment of their many employees.
Mara Mintz: There are so many incredible for-profit businesses today that are committed to using their platform to do good. TOMS shoes is probably the most famous with their “one-for-one” model, but even major corporations like General Electric, Target, Nike and Intel use their businesses to address major social and global challenges. And, “doing good” is smart for business. I am part of an entire generation of consumers — the Millennial generation — who care deeply about giving back and using our purchasing power to support organizations who are a force for good. As consumers, we experience “business as a force for good” on a daily basis. We are given a million choices each time we go to Target, to the grocery store, or need to purchase a new pair of shoes. Most of the time? I’m buying from the companies who have a cause I believe in — giving back to our communities, sustaining our planet, and contributing to the betterment of our society.
Stephanie Denman: In working with Juniper’s Community Engagement team to mobilize employee and corporate support for non profits including Stop Hunger Now, Not for Sale and Code.org, it has been so fulfilling to see employees show up to support great causes and have fun while doing it.
Karen Papa: Our client, Hasbro, has been named the third most transparent and responsible company in the U.S., according to the 100 Best Corporate Citizens List for 2016. This is the third time that Hasbro has ranked in the Top 10 and the fourth consecutive year that the Company has ranked in the Top 25.
Jen Ko: A gym in my hometown has a business goal to help 20,000 residents meet their fitness goals in the next 20 years. I was so inspired by this and joined — their goal is my goal.