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Ideas
Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington ... Introducing What's Working: Purpose + Profit

Burgess COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess

Introducing What's Working: Purpose + Profit

The shift in the way an increasing number of businesses see their role in the world has been one of the most exciting, promising and desperately needed developments of the past few years. More and more companies are moving beyond the obsession with quarterly earnings and short-term gain toward a very different vision. As Unilever CEO Paul Polman has said, 'Business must make a bigger difference to global challenges by leveraging its scale, influence, expertise and resources to drive transformational change at a systemic level.' A sense of purpose has come to be seen, rightly, as a value that not only has a place in business but is essential to long-term success.

That's why today I'm delighted to announce What's Working: Purpose + Profit, a new platform, sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, that's putting a spotlight on the ways businesses are working toward solutions and widening the lens of their concern in ways that benefit not only the bottom line but their employees, their communities and the world at large. Purpose + Profit will feature stories, insights and tips from leaders in the world of business and thinkers who are driving change, with an emphasis on what's working in entrepreneurship, B-corporations -- that is, benefit corporations, a class of corporations that strive to have a positive impact on society -- and impact investing.

There's no better time to put a spotlight on all that's happening in this arena. We are at the beginning of a new era for purpose-driven businesses, having come a long way even since 2011, when Michael Porter and Mark Kramer wrote in the Harvard Business Review that 'most companies remain stuck in a 'social responsibility' mind-set in which societal issues are at the periphery, not the core.' The solution, they continued, 'lies in the principle of shared value, which involves creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges.'

MORE: What's Working What's Working: Purpose + Profit Social Responsibility Business Leadership Giving Back Purpose Driven Business Entrepreneurship Social Entrepreneurship Cause Work Benefit Corporations B Corporations B Corps Business Purpose Impact Investing


Mark Horoszowski Become a fan Co-founder of MovingWorlds.org, a global platform connecting people who want to volunteer their skills with social impact organizations around the world. Email What Is Good for the World Is Good for Business, Research Proves It

Posted: 06/03/2015 3:40 pm EDT Updated: 1 hour ago

2015-06-02-1433269474-4489635-ConeGlobalCSRResearch.png

When it comes to the environment and social issues, the word 'business' usually has a bad reputation, but it's not always deserved. At a theoretical level, business is actually one of mankind's most sophisticated and powerful inventions. But the problem with businesses is that they think short-term and ignore some of their diverse stakeholders. Unfortunately, once they start down this path, it's hard for businesses to think long-term and value all their stakeholders unless they can justify the expense.

So when new research is published that explains how business can actually improve profits by thinking about the world at large, it's exciting to read and it needs to be shared. The 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study reveals that consumers care more about the world than ever before, and they spend their money with companies that share that belief. Here are just a few important takeaways:

Consumers Know More, Research More, and Make More Informed Decisions That Put the World First

Cone calls today's consumers 'empowered.' Meaning that they read more reviews, talk to their social networks, and do more research about products, and the companies behind them. And if they don't like what they see, the go elsewhere. According to the research:

  • Ninety percent are willing to boycott a company based on its CSR practices (or lack thereof)

  • Eighty one percent are willing to consume or purchase fewer products to preserve natural resources

  • Eighty percent will buy a product from an unknown brand if it has strong CSR commitments

  • Not surprisingly, the majority of consumers -- unless they read information otherwise -- assume that businesses are bad for the world. Meaning that if your company isn't engaging in CSR activ

    ities AND communicating its impact, consumers assume that it is bad for the world and are likely to do business elsewhere.

Consumers Are More Loyal to Companies That Are Loyal to the World, and They Talk About It on Social Media Years ago, Patagonia CEO Yvon Chouinard shared that 'Every time we've done the right thing for the planet, we've made more money.' Research shows that this is true for all businesses. When companies support social or environmental issues, consumer affinity overwhelmingly upsurges:
  • Ninety three percent of global citizens will have a more positive image of that company

  • Ninety percent will be more likely to trust that company

  • Eighty eight percent will be more loyal (i.e., continue buying products or services)

  • Eight-in-10 or more consider CSR when deciding what to buy or where to shop (84 percent), which products and services to recommend to others (82 percent), which companies they want to see doing business in their communities (84 percent) and where to work (79 percent)

-2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study

A large reason for the increase in business that results from CSR activities can be attributed to people's willingness to promote world-positive companies throughout their social media networks.

When Companies Do Good for the World, They Inspire More Good

One of the most interesting stories to emerge from this research is the untold story of what happens after companies initiate CSR activities. While the numbers aren't as notable as above, they also speak to the underlying potential within business to not only drive change, but to inspire its entire network to change for the better, too.

The study revealed that:

  • Seventy six percent of people would donate to a charity supported by a company they trust

  • Seventy two percent would volunteer for a cause supported by a company they trust

Unknowingly, companies are realizing that not only can they use their financial and human capital to create change, but they can also inspire others to change, too.

CSR Continues to Evolve, Faster Than Before

In addition to the research showing how businesses benefit from CSR initiatives, the study also shared another unexpected highlight: Beyond putting pressure on business to create changes 'consumers also understand they have an obligation to make change as well.' And there is a growing body of evidence from other reports proving a wide array of benefits to business beyond increased sales, including things like recruiting, retention, and employee development.

This growing body of powerful and compelling research is best summarized by Cone's Executive Vice President, Alison daSilva 'This study reveals a higher level of understanding, awareness and support of corporate social responsibility efforts from the world's consumers... consumers remain steadfast as open-minded partners for collaboration to drive forward social and environmental progress.' To take advantage of this, 'companies must advance CSR beyond a peripheral brand attribute to create an entirely new CSR experience' -- one that thinks long-term and truly takes into account its diverse stakeholder universe.

This page contains materials from The Huffington Post and/or other third party writers. PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP ('PwC') has not selected or reviewed such third party content and it does not necessarily reflect the views of PwC. PwC does not endorse and is not affiliated with any such third party. The materials are provided for general information purposes only, should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors, and PwC shall have no liability or responsibility in connection therewith.

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