Customers and Employees Want Your Company Engaged in Society.Consumers, employees and investors are increasingly expecting business to be engaged in and relevant to the issues facing society. Consumers say they want business to more actively take stands on social issues, eighty percent of us say that buying good matters to us and eighty-three percent of employees say having purpose in their work is important to them.
The bad news is that while customers and employees want it-for the most part they aren’t getting it. Over sixty percent of employees say their company is more interested in profits than then the best interests of their customers/society and consumers only trust about 6 out of 100 brands!
So how does a business engage effectively in society and at the same time truly win more customers and talent because of it? I’ve been a pioneer in the movement doing good being good business since my first book Awakening Corporate Soul (1994) right up to my latest book The Purpose Revolution (2018) having worked with over 500 companies to help them be good and win loyalty.
So today I want to give you three simple pieces of advice: Be Bold, Be a Difference Maker and Be Clear.
Be Bold. Take a stand even if not everyone is happy about it. When Nike featured Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who started the movement to kneel during the national anthem in the USA, in ads about “sacrifice for what you believe in” last Fall-most people said they were nuts. While many called to boycott them, sales skyrocketed! Regardless of how you feel about the issue itself, the point is people want us to take a stand. If that stand is an authentic expression of your values, those who share them will reward you handsomely. Dove took on how we see beauty. They stayed with that over a long period and now have loyalty levels 30% higher than similar brands.
Be a Difference Maker. Far too many companies think that just being a good corporate citizen is enough: Give some money to charity, support the local cancer walk. All these things are good-and good for society-but leaders are focusing their efforts to leverage major change. CISCO built a worldwide academy to help train IT professionals in underserved communities demonstrating real change. Seventh Generation focused on getting bills passed that would require labeling of toxic chemicals in products children were exposed to.
Be Clear. Studies show consumers want to buy good but are confused. Many of my clients are very purpose focused making a real big difference for society but do a poor job of telling the story. Tell your story right on your label-here is why you should feel good buying from us-make it real and clear. Consistently communicate to your employees how your company is good. At one of my large Telco clients-employees said they had no idea how much good the company was doing so asked for a “cheat” sheet on a regular basis.
A final hint: Most consumers don’t believe what the company says about itself being good (16%) but 73% say they believe it when an employee says it. And the best predictor of an employee being an ambassador for your brand is feeling they make a difference every day in their job. Help your people find their own purpose and how to live it at work-and they will tell the world how good you are!