Positive-impact economy is gaining ground and has become somewhat of a hot topic these days! Whether you’re only just creating your business or transforming your model to a more sustainable one, here are a few tips to inspire you and help you to combine ethics, innovation, social impact, and cost-effectiveness.
1. Think about your purpose
What is your end goal, or rather, your mission? What sector would you most like to make a positive impact in? Keep in mind that the former goes hand in hand with your mission, and that one flows from the other. Let’s use the example of Yves Rocher1, a classic business that transformed itself into a “mission-driven company,” a new type of company in France that advocates for an equal balance between economic performance and contribution to the common good. Within the context of their purpose, (reconnecting communities to nature), they developed a practical action plan spanning 10 years with the creation of a “Nature Academy,” so that their 18,000 employees can be made aware of the power of nature and the planting of 100 million trees. As you can probably tell, the purpose should be clear and realistic from an operational standpoint. Otherwise, it risks being seen as marketing or greenwashing operations.
2. Engage your collaborators
A thorny question for every step towards sustainable transformation: how do you create, excite, or get a community of collaborators to engage in your business’ purpose2? Your collaborators have to understand the “why” and the “what for” of your commitments. It’s important to define a strategy as well as clear, precise, and achievable objectives. The concerned matters will occupy a central position in your strategy! Therefore, we advise you to work on potential problems that your collaborators may be experiencing and to choose relevant, concrete, and eloquent themes. For example, how your business recycles waste, creates more ethical products, or reinvents your supply chain.3
3. Breathe new life into your activity
It could be relevant to perform an assessment with the help of professional expertise during this step. Doing this work will allow you to identify priorities for improving your service provision or product manufacturing process and for turning sustainability into a real opportunity with your structure. Within the context of your product, this step is less evident and may appear complex at first. In any case, reviewing your organization inside and out is essential. Work on your value chain to think about which actions to implement for improving your local presence and reducing your energy consumption, etc. Who are your providers and how do you choose them? Are they ethical? Where are they based? Have you thought about integrating the matter of social inclusion into your activity and if so, how would you do it?
4. Think your politics over
Horizontal management, liberated companies… Management is constantly evolving and increasingly values collaborative innovation and the ability to adapt to new collaborator needs as well as their professional quest. The integration of shared professional tools (such as Slack or Trello) simplifies management and project realization, and introduces more flexibility and independence to the business. Increasingly more businesses are trying out these atypical management methods with decentralized decision-making processes that encourage a collective understanding, and trust over control. A great and inspiring example in France is Makesense4 who implemented a community-based governance model and a No-CEO business model that comprised a decentralized decision-making culture.
5. Convey your mission through your identity
If you’ve already created your business, what could be better than using your brand identity for communicating your mission and social commitment? The Body Shop, an international cosmetics-based company, bases its identity on five ethical values: protecting the planet, supporting fair trade, encouraging self-esteem, defending human rights, and opposing animal testing. This company also campaigns for different ethical and environmental causes, notably the fight against HIV and domestic abuse.
6. Communicate around your cause
It’s really important to convey your commitments throughout this step. Limiting yourself to publishing a social responsibility assessment in your annual report, or to mentioning your contributions to meetings or events you were invited to are certainly things to be avoided.
We hope this article has inspired you and given you some initial tips to think about for committing yourself to sustainable transformation that responds to current societal affairs. Following this article, we’ll offer you some practical tips for realizing this transformation in Luxembourg.
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