By: Mieke Evans, Senior Account Manager at sport for social impact consultancy thinkBeyond, explores the best ways for new brands to incorporate social impact from the start.
Often we see established brands incorporate ‘good’ into their corporate strategies, which is great to see and of huge significance. There is immense pressure for brands to deliver social impact in their daily operations, but this should be more than a PR exercise, it needs to be genuine and built in from the core of the organisation.
Today’s customers, and Millennials and Gen Z specifically, now have an expectation for businesses to have stances on social or political issues. A report highlighted that, doing nothing purposeful with your work will leave you tailing behind and open to criticism.
But wouldn’t it be easier if ‘doing good’ was more than just a bolt on, and a brand kicked-off with purpose from the get-go? It’s crucial for brands to figure out their purpose from the offset. As a new brand you have a unique opportunity to embed your purpose from the beginning. You can do that, by asking yourself these important questions:
- What do you want to be known for in years to come?
- What’s important to you, your team and crucially, your customers?
- What local, regional or national issues exist within the areas you operate and how do you think can help overcome these?
- Are there personal stories of interest within your team that you want to raise awareness of, like inequality, mental health, exclusion? If so, how might these help drive positive change?
- What can you do within your products and services to have a positive difference on society? e.g. using less water when creating products or only working with suppliers who support similar values to you
Teamwork makes the dreamwork
Once you have answered the above questions, you can then develop your organisational values – but the key is to take on a collaborative approach, with your team, to help you understand what you stand for, your purpose and what positive impact you can have on your communities.
Once you have, these values should be integrated into how you operate, from recruitment to retention, and your day-to-day operations.
Authenticity is key. So, ask your team what they want, what change they want to see and how they can support. This enables you the chance to create a culture of openness and transparency, so your team feel safe to speak up, particularly if the issues you are trying to combat have personal connections to them. Ask the senior team to also speak up; a CEO sharing their personal story of a challenge is a powerful message to show that vulnerability is OK and often, others follow suit.
Keep it simple
Don’t complicate matters. Give it the time and consideration it deserves.
Pick one or two things that really stand out, and that you know you can commit to investing time, money and resources into over several years to really make change. These things will have come from your collaboration and thoughts prior to this step.
Remember that there are so many issues out there in the world and you can’t fix them all.
You may have lots of ideas for your purpose but work tirelessly to strip it back and really figure out what you want to focus your efforts on and then make a plan for how you can continually bring this to life.
Doing it, and doing it right, can result in huge financial reward for any business, too. A Neilson report found that those who do it well can look to gain far more from sponsorship, 11% more, which must surely help win boardroom support over and above the fact it’s ‘good to improve the world’.
The journey is as important as the destination. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, it could take several years, or longer to achieve lasting impact. The process you go through is an important part of it as your organisation may well need to change internally before you can begin to make an impact externally.
The world is constantly in a period of flux, it’s unpredictable and ‘doing good’ can lead an organisation to having to be flexible around the needs of their team, customers, and all stakeholders.
As a business, you have a crucial role to play in supporting some of the world’s most complex issues, in and around your communities. Companies must go above and beyond just making statements, to actually making positive and lasting impact.
Mieke Evans works for thinkBeyond, one of the leading global strategic consultancies with a focus on utilising sport for social good. For more information, visit www.canyouthinkbeyond.com