“It is in your hands to create a better world for all to live in it” – Nelson Mandela
One thing that we can all agree on is that we want a better world, in fact, we need it. The good news is that it’s probably not as complicated as you might think and you could even begin today. We’re here to help you with that.
Here are some statistics that barely capture the state our world is in.
- It is estimated that about two per cent of the world’s population are homeless. While it may not sound like much, that’s about 150 million people.
- 2021 was tied for the sixth hottest year on record with the past 8 years being the warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880.
- Every year we dump a massive 2.12 billion tons of waste. If all this waste was put on trucks they would go around the world 24 times.
- It’s estimated that over one billion people globally have a mental or substance use disorder, that’s at least one in every seven people.
These are just some snapshots to show how much damage is being done not just to our environment but also to people. As businesses and leaders, we have a responsibility and obligation to contribute to a better world and make a change.
We can’t deny that businesses are important to society purely due to the fact that we encounter them in every aspect of our life but we feel that they don’t see their own potential to create greatness. Besides recycling or having other topline sustainable initiatives, businesses can actually choose to change the course of their business to make all that good their “WHY”. The advantages are plenty. Lower attrition rates, increased customer satisfaction, a more attractive culture, generally happier employees and so much more.
So if you’re looking to create a positive impact through your organisation, let us help you with these 5 ways that are (relatively) easy to start contributing to a better world today.
- Support local charities and causes.
One of the simplest ways that your business can make a difference in the world is by supporting local causes. This could take the form of monetary or in-kind donations, events or sponsorship but it can also mean working with local organisations to provide employment opportunities, training and mentorship programmes, or support services.
In 2011, there were 45,000 registered NGOs that attend to the many social, environmental and other needs of the people and that number has likely increased. Through partnership or support, you can help make your community a better place to live and work. You can also build relationships with potential customers and partners, which can be beneficial for your business in the long run.
If you don’t know where to start, here’s a list of the top 20 NGOs globally that you can look into.
- Create jobs and opportunities for locals.
- The COVID-19 pandemic dominated the global economy for a second year in 2021, preventing a full and balanced recovery of labour markets.
- According to the ILO, around 220 million people are expected to remain unemployed globally in 2021, while the global unemployment rate may reach 6.3 per cent, falling to only 5.7 in 2022, which still would be above the pre-pandemic level of 5.4 per cent registered in 2019.
- Japan’s jobless rate rose to 2.8% as the surge in coronavirus infections and mobility curbs hit service sector activity.
- Young people’s employment prospects in Asia and the Pacific are severely challenged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Youth will be hit harder than adults in the immediate crisis and also will bear higher longer-term economic and social costs.
If these numbers worry you, they should. As we begin to move into post-pandemic recovery, our economy, workforce and people need support that stems from kindness. You could do anything from:
- Raising minimum wage within your company so that your employees know that they’re cared for and thought of.
- Part-time opportunities for underskilled workers or to lighten the burden of current full-time staff.
- Upskilling into employment pathways.
- Mental health & welfare support for struggling employees.
- Flexible working conditions.
- Promoting Sustainability
The recent pandemic has shown how easy it is for businesses to fold, making sustainability an increasingly important issue for businesses and consumers alike. With the global movement picking up and consumers becoming more informed and placing importance on values, sustainability is now a requirement.
Defined simply, a sustainable business is one that operates in a way that does not have negative impacts on the environment or society.
When the word sustainability comes to mind, most would think of reducing energy consumption, recycling materials, using biodegradable packaging, and promoting responsible sourcing practices.
True sustainability, however, extends beyond that into an organisation’s culture from the ground up.
Having a CSR campaign here and there just doesn’t cut it. More and more companies are attaching themselves and their annual goals with and of the global Sustainable Development Goals and people are now asking for the proof of those efforts, especially if your business is in the limelight.
If you haven’t already, here’s where you can start:
- Educate & support your employees on sustainability and social responsibility practices.
- Implement sustainable and ethical practices into your business operations.
- Create a system where your employees can suggest initiatives
- Reward employees for upholding your values or taking initiative
By making your business more sustainable, you have the opportunity and responsibility to not only build positive and long-lasting brand equity both internally and externally but also develop a resilient and thriving workforce.
- Offering Fair-Trade Products
There are a lot of options out there for business owners who want to do something good for their community and offering fair-trade products is a great way to start. Fair-trade products are products that have been certified as being ethically sourced and produced. This means that the workers who made the product were treated fairly, with safe working conditions and a living wage.
As previously mentioned, more people are looking for ways to make more ethical choices when they shop. It’s a great way to set yourself apart from your competition.
If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of resources available online and in print that can help you get started with selling fair-trade products. There are also organisations like Fair Trade USA that can help you get started and provide support along the way.
- Cooperate with other businesses to make a bigger impact
As the saying goes, ‘one man’s waste is another man’s treasure’. The concept of a circular economy is even more achievable than ever. The key is always to collaborate, not compete. As a business, you don’t have to own the initiative to own every initiative you set your eyes on. If there’s already an organisation or NGO that’s doing exactly what you’re planning, why not consider supporting them. You could even get together with other businesses for a joint effort.
“Business, working in collaboration with governments and NGOs, has the potential to create a more inclusive economy and reduce poverty through a market-based approach to development even as it fulfils its own economic, profit-generating role,” Joanne Lawrence, Professor of Global Business and Society at Hult International Business School and academic advisor to the UN Global Impact.
For instance, The Nudge Foundation works with more than 50 partners (NGOs, government, foundations and companies) on skill development to pull one million people out of poverty.
If you’re looking for more information you can always:
- Get involved with an organisation like B Lab or the Sustainable Business Network to learn more about how to make your business more sustainable.
- Look for resources like case studies or articles that can help you understand what steps you need to take to make your business more impactful.
- Join a community of business owners who are also interested in making a positive impact and learning from their experiences.
Now let’s get to how you can actually make it happen, here’s what you can do with questions you can bring to the table.
- Define what you want your business to do for the world.
- What do you / your business believe that everyone deserves?
- What industry are you in and what are its pain points?
- What problems can you solve?
- Choose a single big feature that will make the biggest impact.
- Who needs help the most right now?
- What is best aligned to your company’s goals & values?
- What do your people say?
- Research how you can best accomplish your goal.
- What resources do you already have available?
- Is anyone else out there and who can you partner with?
- Make a plan and put it into action.
- Remember to have measurable goals & checkpoints in place.
- Have stakeholders/accountability officers.
- Evaluate your progress and make changes as needed.
Here are the facts:
- You don’t have to change your entire business model in order to make an impact – there are many small changes you can make that will have a big impact.
- There are many different ways to contribute to your community – find the one that best suits your strengths and interests.
- There are resources available to help you learn about and implement impactful business practices.
- It’s important to stay informed about the changing landscape of social and environmental issues – they may affect your business operations.
- There is power in numbers – join or create a network of businesses committed to making a difference in their communities
Remember, you can make a change today and start small, it doesn’t have to be grand. By becoming more mindful of the impact you have and making small changes, businesses can make a big difference. Other than the five listed, there are many other ways to get involved in your community and make a positive impact.