Every business wants to be successful. Maximizing profits and efficiently growing is a top priority for all companies. However, when success is the main focus, social impact usually is forgotten. Creating a positive social impact should be equally as important to organizations. It will elevate your business, give you higher purpose, create incentives for employees to work better, and ultimately make your business more successful. Many business founders and upcoming generations would agree. In an article published by Forbes found that millennials believe that business profits and social impact dont have to be mutually exclusive.
Sounds pretty nice right? Well it’s also not hard to do. You don’t have to change your products or entire organizational structure to start making a positive social impact. Social impact simply means meeting legitimate human needs. Every business plays a role in creating jobs and contributing to the communities in which they reside. In order to maximize their value created, companies must identify their signature strengths and align them with a virtuous purpose.
Step 1: Identify
Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? According to the psychologist Maslow, every human has a pyramid structure of needs, where the lower needs must be met before the needs on the higher levels can be fulfilled. These needs include; physiological, safety, belonging, self-esteem, cognitive, aesthetic, self-actualization and self-transcendence. This hierarchy doesn’t just pertain to individuals. All businesses provide needs for their employees.
Businesses are very good at systematically organizing people to become more than the sum of their individual capacities. If a business is able to identify where they add value on the pyramid then they can maximize on the value they add to their employees lives.
There are also powers that each business can use to create social impact. For the purposes of this article, we have limited those to eight areas in which organizations can impart social good to: product employment, financial capital, power, leadership, institutional stability, coordination, and innovation. Every organization may be maximizing its power in one or more of these categories. In order to find where your business will be the most effective in terms of social impact, select one or two of these impact contributions to focus on.
For example does your company make products responsibly that are benefiting society and the world? Or is your business focused on finances and has leverage in the financial market? When combined with Maslow’s hierarchy your company can identify a need within your social impact factor that you can do a better job of providing for your employees, customers and communities.
Step 2: Make changes
Ok, so you do have to change some things. Change can be positive! Many organizations are already doing a lot of good for the employees who work for them so many times these changes can come in the form of improving on what you do best! For example if your business is focused on making products and you want to better help your employees and community fit their need for safety your company can focus on producing, selling or donating products that promote a sense of safety and stability. For example the Cotopaxi foundation was founded as a producer of goods but also with the mission to support global poverty alleviation and ensure that they will remain a dedicated B Corp by focusing on social good for their employees and community. By making these positive changes you will be able to focus your attention on the things that you will be best at providing needs for, creating room for your employees to reach their fullest potential and thrive.
Step 3: Re-evaluate
Social responsibility doesn’t just happen overnight, and you can’t expect to be making positive change for years to come if you aren’t willing to continue the evaluating process. Make sure to check back with these metrics often and do a thorough evaluation to make sure you are still providing positive results to your employees and to your community. Businesses that do not learn, grow, adapt and change are likely to face irrelevance and obsolescence as the rapidly changing social and technological organization can learn. Start one step at a time. Identify and make the proper changes to one area of social impact and need. Once you and your employees feel you are ready, choose another area to make improvements on. By taking the time to self reflect and work to improve you will help your business and ultimately your community become better.