Companies put a lot of work into making money. While this traditionally means providing a necessary good or service, some companies go above and beyond that call to establish their brand as ethical. While making socially responsible investments was traditionally considered a challenge, more company and industry leaders are seeing the benefits of making responsibility a priority. Once CEOs start becoming leaders and providing examples of corporate responsibility, other companies follow suit: impact investors can help support enterprising businesses by letting their money talk for them.
Value, Ethics, and Business Companies that hope to make money provide the best customer experience that they can. The relationship that people have with a brand is part of that experience, and responsible companies will consider their relationship with people, communities, and environments rather than just sales figures.
You can’t have corporate responsibility without ethics. Taking responsibility for governance and compliance, human rights within an organization, economic development in local communities and regions, and enacting environmental protection measures is part of an ethical company culture. Companies that are ethical do the right thing and create an environment that’s safe, open, and trusting. They will ask and seek out answers to questions like, “Are we liked?”, “Are we respected?”, and “What do people think about what we do and how we do it?” This encourages and empowers everyone involved with the company from employees to communities.
Ethical changes within a company start with a commitment at the top. It’s the responsibility of leaders to set the example for the rest of the organization through the everyday actions and strategies that define the company in the short and long term. Leaders need to inspire others to incorporate the long-term changes, however small, that go toward shaping a company’s future as well as the impact that it has on the world.
Businesses thrive on data to improve their practices, so responsible leaders ensure that a company’s ethical actions are measured as well. This doesn’t just mean focusing on large-scale employee engagement: companies need to dig a little deeper to see how their ethics and values impact their business. Numbers are useful as a metric not only for a single quarter or fiscal year, but for establishing a pattern of good, trustworthy behavior over time. Responsible leaders will survey customers, shareholders, and employees for insights, analyze that data, and find the technology, partnerships, or other resources to implement it in the same way that all companies would examine sales figures. Taking a serious, honest look at the company’s brand and policies, what they’re promoting, and the risks and rewards is standard for any business, but only responsible companies will work to align their interests with their communities, the world, and the future.
Leading by Example Any positive change can be tremendously helpful and lead to great things down the road, so companies don’t need to be perfect right away. What matters is that they try, which means looking to others for examples and putting in a lot of work to have an impact. Successful companies will inspire others to be better to compete: this leads to CEOs asking questions about their companies’ initiatives, developing assessments of risks and values, and figuring out what aligns with the priorities, business model, and culture that they strive for and want to build off of in years to come.
Companies of any size that hope to practice corporate responsibility can look into measures like using vendors with responsible track records. Not all company-wide changes have to involve introducing solar panels or composting, at least right away: even small changes, like switching to locally-sourced and sustainable products, can reduce a business’s negative impact. These measures can even encourage employees and their families to become better consumers in their home lives, which seems like a small change but can add up to a lot of good in the long run.
Leaders in corporate responsibility will also be able educate up-and-coming champions of ethical practices. Business and human rights consultants can provide the expertise that a company needs to make changes, and peers in the industry can be a boon to other companies looking to make changes. Leaders will already have completed assessments, answered questions, and seen the impacts of their measures and can use their own experiences to help others.
Changes can’t happen overnight, and the kind of changes that a company or CEO needs to make will depend on the size of the business and their particular risks. Collaboration and partnership will always be a good first step, and when companies become leaders, they can ensure that others will follow their example.
The Impact of Investors Investments are important for companies who want to develop sustainable and responsible goals. Having a good financial base can help companies take on the challenges of responsible work by implementing or improving technologies, seizing opportunities when they arise, and forming partnerships with other responsible companies and communities. Companies that see investors putting their money toward supporting responsible, impactful measures will take the hint and start figuring out how to get involved in existing measures or create new approaches.
A commitment to activism, human rights, economic development, environmental protections, and other aspects leads to long-term advantages for communities. Addressing community concerns builds constructive, transparent, and trusting relationships: this can lead to more opportunities to provide aid. Training courses, education, and other resources can help a community develop and thrive as well as extend a company’s reach. While these measures can come about as a result of good decision-making by CEOs, they are so often supported through socially responsible investing decisions and conscientious investors. By investing your money in responsible companies, you’re supporting the kinds of practices that help the world thrive and the kind of thinkers and leaders that are dedicated to putting them into place.
Invest in Corporate Responsibility with Falcons Rock Impact Investments Corporate decision-makers as well as their communities need the support of investors to develop the approaches and innovation that make ethical practices possible: this is why impact investing is so important. When investors put their money in companies that engage in good business practices, communities see the benefits and more companies are encouraged to make good changes of their own. Falcons Rock Impact Investments can help socially responsible investors see the financial returns they’re looking for and help make the social changes they believe in possible. Learn more about how our impact investing process works to get started today.