I recently added the first of a series on Business for Good, run by the Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce. I’ve always admired organisations who have being of assistance to other people/organisations/countries as part of their way of working.
However, while I have long wanted to incorporate this more into my own small business, short of regularly donating to charities, or giving a few hours to a deserving cause, I have been unsure about how to do so .
So this workshop was a great start to glean information and find out what other business owners do. The first thing we considered during the session, and which is a good starting point for all of us, was “What is the change to the world you would like to be or contribute to?”
Looking deeper, what is your value chain? Can we solve customer problems that are contributing to societal problems e.g. providing products that do not rely on use of plastics or helping people to move around more at work, thus increasing their health and workplace productivity.
We were encouraged to consider our procurement chain. Have you considered yours? If you’re not already doing so, can you use locally based products, supporting businesses in NZ and reducing carbon output with transport?
Does your training programme support equity and diversity? Can you employ people who find it hard to work full time, through flexible work hours, or working from home?
Consider your impact
Your ‘business for good’ impact is the culmination of positive social or environmental outcomes that happen because of what you do. And it makes complete sense for businesses to embrace the business for good approach for the following reasons:
- Customers increasingly want to support businesses who themselves show support for others in the community
- To address social and environmental challenges, which as we nearly all recognise, urgently need to do
- Sustainability – again something we all need to be aiming to achieve
- Responding to change and expectations of these demands
- Resilience – create businesses which will withstand changes, stand up and be counted
- To partner with other businesses with the same philosophy – this is very powerful
Where to start
So how do you know where to start? Well, in 2005, through the United Nations, world leaders have committed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals to help achieve extraordinary things over the next 15 years. This is known as the SDG Agreement, which has only become a particularly well known document in the last couple of years. New Zealand has set its own sustainability targets, which you can read about here, but we are not doing that well in terms of sustainability. Being realistic and starting small, as a change in thinking for business owners is imperative.
Looking at those sustainable development goals and wondering what you could do might seem a little daunting if you are a small business owner, so where to being? Focusing on your impact can be a good place to start. This approach allows you to prove and improve what you are doing to increase your social or environmental impact. All of us can look at the impact we have on our customers, staff, environment and look at better ways of doing things.
So consider your business model, activities that you do, partnerships, HR strategy, supply chain, minimising negative impacts and don’t forget to tell your story. While you are developing your business plan, which helps to create a financially sustainable organisation, think also about putting together an impact plan. This helps you to refine your focus and identify what impact you want to have.
Choose one and get going
If you want some help to get started on your journey, get in touch with Tim Jones, the Grow Good Guy at who helps businesses to develop their approach with an emphasis on doing something for the world beyond just making a profit for the business. And if you want to start by taking care of your own customers we can help you with:
11 – Sustainable cities & communities, creating healthy, sustainable businesses creates healthy communities
With 17 to choose from, it’s always helpful to raise awareness and share what you’re already doing, or begin to think about how you might do business for good. Go on… what can you do at work to make a positive impact?