By Mediaplanet Editorial Team
This content was originally published in Mediaplanet's Business for Good 2017 campaign on 7/21/2017. As interviewed by the publication, Bryan de Lottinville, founder & CEO of Benevity, provides commentary on the business impacts that flow from being a mission and purpose-driven company.
How has the nature of mission-driven business changed in the last decade?
Companies are focusing more on the power of purpose and mission to engage their employees and help create a corporate culture that is compelling to today’s diverse and socially conscious workforce. This translates into changes in the tactics and execution of what a mission-driven organization looks like. For instance, charitable efforts have evolved from annual fundraising campaigns to a people-centric approach to Goodness, with year-round giving and volunteering programs that allow employees to choose which charity they support. With this, they’re seeing employees who are far more engaged, loyal and productive.
What is the mark of an effective social/environmental impact program?
An effective program resonates personally with the employees, customers and broader stakeholders of a company in more than an advertising or lip-service based way. Ideally, it fosters prosocial behavioural change initiatives that are taken up at both the corporate and individual level. Companies with higher performing Goodness programs also tend to be top employers with the lowest recruitment costs, lowest levels of churn and highest levels of employee engagement.
How can we prepare young professionals for a career in social impact?
We think one of the most important things is to continue to de-silo social impact as being separate from ongoing operations of companies. Any company or person can include these initiatives in their purview, even if they are not core to the company’s operations or the person’s role. For instance, by providing opportunities for employees to engage in Goodness, our clients are helping their people develop the soft skills required for leadership roles like communication, collaboration and teamwork. These skills will infuse a sense of social impact into their careers.
What is the single biggest obstacle to successful corporate responsibility implementation?
CSR still largely operates on its own, as a top-down initiative, often without the requisite senior management champions. Even where there are champions, the orientation is too often a brand-driven or advertising mindset, rather than one that focuses on engagement and grassroots participation. With employee engagement as the goal, we need to break down silos and get HR, marketing and other departments working together. We’re still seeing far too few cross-functional leaders involved in Goodness programs, even though it’s key to recruitment, retention, engagement and employer branding.
Why is social inclusion so crucial to a successful mission-driven business model?
The workforce is more diverse than ever, with five generations of all backgrounds and abilities, as well as retirees, veterans and workers in far-flung locations. At the same time, most companies have global operations and workforces, requiring both a macro and local context for their corporate culture. Having an inclusive culture (and enabling technology and programs) is crucial to the success of any company, but especially a mission-driven one where everyone is working towards a greater good.
Interested in building a purpose-driven corporate culture? Check out these resources