Water and food are two of the most essential basic needs in life – so important that this week we celebrate World Water Day and next week National Agriculture Day. Yet one in three people still lack access to clean water and nearly a billion people go to bed hungry every night.
‘Doing Well by Doing Good’ Takes on New Meaning
Dow Jones established the concept in 2000 with its revolutionary sustainability index that rewards companies addressing the social well-being of communities where they operate. The digital revolution – with 24/7 social interaction and increasing employee and consumer demands – has accelerated the overall understanding (and acceptance) that societal issues are not the sole purview of governments.
Today there is an expectation that the private sector must play a role. As a result, companies are more engaged than ever in pushing for and developing solutions that are strategic, sustainable and scalable. Even for companies already engaged in this space, the terminology is confusing and the definitions overlap:
• Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – integrating business operations and values with the interests of all stakeholders.
• Creating Shared Value (CSV) – transparently linking the business with societal issues to create a win for both.
• Cause Related Marketing (CRM) – aligning with a cause to sell a product.
• Sustainability – managing the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit).
At the core is a company’s desire to self-regulate its behavior. A critical first step is to understand the business goal for engagement, how closely it will be aligned with the business, how committed the leadership is and how long before ROI is measured.
Nine Simple Ways to Get Started:
1. Look for Entry Points – what your already doing and how can you help drive ROI
2. Understand Risk Tolerance – the more conservative, the less likely to think big
3. Stay in Your Lane – link the issue to the business
4. Choose Partners Wisely – the critical first step is due diligence
5. Everyone May Speak English, but They Don’t Speak the Same Language –government, private sector and civil society often struggle to understand each other, so build in appropriate time
6. Theme and Team – create a theme for the campaign and have a dedicated team in place
7. Tell Your Family First – get employees on board and only think about external communications when there is a story about ‘impact’, rather than ‘output’
8. Take Credit Where Credit is Due – don’t be afraid to tout success, but remember that communicating lessons-learned can be a powerful way to attract attention
9. The Long View – it takes time to develop a program that can both make a social impact and achieve a company’s business objectives
Ultimately, the value of “doing well by doing good” is both good for business and good for the communities in which that work is undertaken. As you examine the opportunities, keep these steps in mind and you will help your business get on the right track.
Photo credit: World Water Day