“We see this double-edged sword where if the firm is doing well, investments in corporate social responsibility can buffer a CEO from dismissal. But on the other hand, if there’s negative financial performance, it can really set the CEO up for a situation where they could likely be terminated.”
Digest that with this morsel, again from the Edelman Trust Survey: since 2017, CEOs recorded a seven-percentage-point gain in trust.
While it’s not a massive uptick, it’s significant considering trust is so lacking in our world right now.
Companies need to figure out a way to do well … and do good.
Best Examples Of Social Enterprises.
Based on a study released by the Reputation Institute in September of last year, Forbes gave its annual shout-out to the top 10 companies with the best CSR reputations.
Lego (on a mission to use all sustainable materials by 2030) and Microsoft (its commitment to enhancing education) topped the list.
Apple, Samsung and VW all took a nose dive. A culture of secrecy, an exploding smartphone and the remnants of an emissions scandal were to blame for the dips.
Also, late last year, in the dark shadow of the Las Vegas shooting, Fortune held their annual CEO Initiative Event. The topic was … you guessed it … doing well and doing good.
Fish and plastic pollution: plastics contaminate our seafood.
One of the toughest questions asked of the CEOs in attendance was, how can business leaders make a difference?
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon committed to revitalising Detroit. But Dimon didn’t just write a check. Instead, a team from Chase worked with the city of Detroit, donating its own data tools and resources to aid the city government in its investments and planning.
Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya described one of the best accomplishments of his career – building a little league baseball field for his local community in the small upstate New York town where he founded his company.
Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo shared that purpose is now a part of her corporation’s core business versus just a pet project, as it was for her predecessor. In fact, their entire CSR mission is called Performance with Purpose, making that sought-after link between the bottom line and society.
However, you don’t need to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company to get social enterprise status right.
Developing A Sense Of Larger Purpose.
Here in Sydney, a sense of purpose drove CEO Luke Baylis to co-found SumoSalad.
SumoSalad’s stated purpose is to make Australia a healthier and happier place. To achieve this, Baylis’s business model turns fresh ingredients from local farmers into delicious, healthy fast food. His menu items – while more expensive than a McDonald’s burger – offer options that Australians can feel good about eating on a regular basis.
In fact, Baylis’s passion for health has led to conversations with Australian health minister Greg Hunt.
In Cathy’s work with leaders in remote villages as well as high-powered boardrooms, purpose emerged as the one necessary component of strategic leadership. She also notes an interesting trend to watch – CEO activism.
And indeed, we saw this play out with gay marriage in Australia last year.
But nothing stunned quite like Mark Zuckerberg testifying before the US Senate this autumn.
Facebook In Hot Water.
Imagine the personal impact of having created a business that spread fake news AND released private data. Both of which impacted Trump’s election as well as Britain’s Brexit vote.
Talk about failing at the social enterprise game.
Moreover, according to a New York Times article published after the trial, the data leak and American / British political implications weren’t the extent of it.
Your culture begins at the top. Building a culture of ethics will not work if leaders are not providing the moral compass.
Communicate and celebrate responsibility. Regularly.
You cannot be partially ethical. Because that means you are partially unethical.
Understandably, the urgent need for this culture shift can feel overwhelming for any leader looking to make sound choices for the long-term.
Putting Your Company On Course.
That is, are you doing well and doing good? Consider these 5 questions:
What are the one or two critical business areas where your work touches society?
What key opportunities exist for your business, and your community, if only you could creatively adjust the relationship?
What are the core long-term issues for both sides that can be positively impacted as a result?
What resources or capabilities do you need to make this happen?
What are you in a unique position to offer the world should this pursuit be successful?
Remember that leading a social enterprise in Australia isn’t about a quick fix, a PR campaign, feeling good, or looking good. The power lies in the long-term, mutual benefit for every stakeholder involved.
Of course, we can’t all be Mark Zuckerberg with the funds and resources to hire ex-Presidential speechwriters to ease the aftermath of poor decisions.
But we can do one thing that Zuckerberg apparently neglected to do: