How to build a socially conscious business.
Millennials make up more than 50 percent of the global workforce, leading businesses to jump on the social enterprise bandwagon in part because its the right thing to do, but also because it now makes economic sense. Younger workers want to derive a sense of meaning from their work and are starved for the engagement that a socially conscious business provides. If your company is considering dipping a toe into this world, here are six easy steps you can take to get started: 1. Find a mentor. Boise has a wealth of purpose-driven companies and entrepreneurs. Scour LinkedIn and reach out to someone youd like to learn form. Or ask meId be happy to connect you. 2. Craft a purpose statement. Whats the change your business wants to make in the world? Write it down. 3. Write down your values. What are the principles and ideals by which every employee at your company will live? 4. Make a manifesto. This is a public declaration of your companys purpose and values, and a great jumping off point to scripting your brands story, key marketing messages, tone, and brand identity. 5. Get creative on benefits. Do your current policies and benefits reflect the values laid out in your manifesto? If not, think about ways to change them, such as offering a flexible or telework policy, starting an employee volunteer program, or implementing paid parental leave that sets you apart from your competitors and helps recruit the best and brightest. 6. Rethink your service providers and suppliers. Bank with a local independent bank or credit union. Find an attorney well-versed in social enterprise, benefit corporations, and B Corps, and form partnerships with like-minded vendors and social entrepreneurs. For my agency, living our values meant we needed to go a step further and pursue B Corporation certification and legal benefit corporation status. This provides us a framework of accountability that meshes purpose with the promise to make positive change in the world. Through independent validation from a third party, we measure our companys actions for social and environmental performance on an annual basis. Ive also embraced the maxim, No margin, no mission. In other words, you cant make social change if youre broke. Without a financial profit, you cant pursue the public benefit thats core to your business and allow it to grow and thrive. Today, there are 2,200 fellow B Corporations companies across the world, including ten in Idaho that represent some of the nations leading models for socially conscious companies, including The Caprock Group, Prosperity Organic Foods, and Treefort Music Fest. Startups are bubbling up such as GoodWell, a public benefit corporation founded by Boise tech veteran Pete Gombert, and Style Her Empowered, a social enterprise founded by recent University of Idaho graduate Payton McGriff. Boise Startup Week even featured a social impact track this year. We may be small in number, but we are becoming mighty in national reputation. I believe this trend toward socially conscious business will grow, propelled by purpose-driven consumers and workers who want to align their talent with employment at companies that share their values. Russ Stoddard is the founder and president of Oliver Russell, a public benefit corporation in Boise that builds brands for purpose-driven companies whose products, services and business models benefit society. Hes a leader in the community of certified B Corporations, companies that use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
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