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Should you care?


In the last decade or so, things in the business world have changed. To connect with us, brands not only have to be cool or different or attractive, now they have to care, really care.

My theory is that with the social media explosion, since the early 2000s, the fact that we now get news pretty much in real time, and the fact that media outlets (traditional and untraditional) can expose things easier, leaving no place to hide for business owners (like they were able to do before), have created a more socially-aware generation. Now you know that a collapsed building in Bangladesh, where clothing was manufactured, was where your favorite brand’s clothes were being made, so now you, the public, the consumer, are also responsible. But it also means you can use your consumer power to demand change, and people have noticed that.

With this, companies have a challenge: either keep business as usual or adapt to what the new consumer is demanding, becoming more responsible for their actions, while engaging and getting more involved with the social, environmental, and cultural issues their consumers care so much about.

At the same time, with a new generation taking over in the business world, companies are now being formed with the social responsibility gene from day one. Now mission-driven businesses, as Explora is, are becoming more common, and this is a good thing. 

So, are you wondering how can your business be more responsible? Well, no business is too small to tackle this challenge, we can all do something. But to find out what you can do, there's a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do you know the why of your business? Why did you create it? What value does it bring to customers? Even if your business has been around for years, go back to the core, sit down, take some time and answer this again, you might find out (new) valuable information.

  • Where can you have the biggest impact? Do you treat your employees well? Are you making their lives easier and more enjoyable? I'm not talking about an annual lunch or party with "team building exercises", that's a work-technique kinda thing. I'm talking about their personal life: income, health, schedule, flexibility, engagement, sense of purpose, open communication, equality, safety... The list goes on, and you might find out there's be plenty of room to improve and engage with them better, even if this is done in tiny little steps over time.

  • Can you make your production more eco-friendly? Whether it is how you manufacture your products, the packaging, the materials, or the shipping and storing system. There are tons of resources out there that you can research. Talk to your printer, see if the format you use is creating too much leftover paper, see if the type of paper and/or the inks can be more sustainable, or maybe the technique. Your printer knows this more than anybody, and you can always ask for a designer’s help to guide you though it.

  • How is your immediate community doing? Not only your neighborhood, but your town, or even your local industry. How can you help them improve? Can you share some knowledge? Get involved, engage, care, connect. 

Whether in business or in our personal lives, change takes time, consistency, a clear mission, and often, it also requires an investment. Don't expect immediate benefits, but know that the value it will bring in the long run most likely will pay off, because customers look for good brands more and more, they like brands that are engaged and share their believes.

And remember they are not fools, they will know if you are doing this only for a marketing purpose or if you are honestly trying to change, so be trustful.

I want to end this post with some good examples and (maybe) inspire you a little. Here are some great mission-driven companies, who's core business, their reason to exist, is socially responsible:

TOMS uses the one-to-one model, every time a Tom’s product is purchased, a person in need gets help. They work with partners around the globe to provide shoes, sight, water, safe birth and bullying prevention services to people in need, and their impact is bigger and bigger every day. More here.

HOSEG was born as a response to a strong need in the high mountain regions of Peru that claims lives year after year: harsh winters without access to proper clothing for protection. In a country full of gaps and contrasts, Hoseg decided to use business for good with the one-to-one model and operating as responsibly and sustainably as possible. Find out more here.

PATAGONIA is known for top-of-the-line technology for outwear and equipment, but this company constantly encourages customers to buy high-quality products that last for a long time instead of consuming and trowing stuff away, as well as choosing companies that are environmentally responsible. But their most important contributions and core element of their company is their environmental activism, fair-trade and making their supply chain as clean as possible. More here.

NEW BELGIUM works constantly to make their production line as green as possible, through sustainable agriculture, promoting clean air, water and energy use, as well as promoting safe sustainable public transportation, specially by being big advocates for biking. They give back to their community through volunteering and their philanthropy program, where they donate $1 per barrel of beer sold. More here.

TESLA’s mission is to help the world transition into sustainable energy with effective products focusing on energy innovation. Find out more here.

EQUAL EXCHANGE is a worker-owned cooperative and leader of the fair-trade movement, empowering farmers and consumers and utilizing sustainable organic agriculture practices. More here.

And the list goes on (and keeps growing). So now, should you care? I say yes.

Daniela CabrerizoComment