1. Profits matter
Strong societies need profitable companies. Healthy businesses fuel the jobs, schools and social initiatives that form the foundation of your community. Profitable companies grow resources and skills that can make a lasting, positive impact on society as well as the environment.
2. People and planet matter more
No company is an island. Every action your company takes has consequences for the environment and community within which it operates. From the manufacturing, packaging and shipping of your product to your engagement in the well-being of employees — your company intersects with more stakeholders than you think.
3. Business is one of the greatest forces for change
Many great ideas fail to reach maximum impact because they spend more cash then they generate. While nonprofits and charities do important work for the underserved, they have difficulty growing their influence to the same scale as a self-perpetuating, well-capitalized business. With guidance, capital or leadership from proven business leaders, great ideas can become profitable businesses and lead to real social and environmental change.
4. Good listening is good business
Listen closely and you’ll discover invaluable ideas and perspectives from people outside of your business. While their focus may not always be on growing your bottom line, their ideas and perspectives can act as a social conscience that spurs innovation, reduces risk and improves employee retention. By integrating the proven practices of others, your company can capture value in ways that your competitors are only beginning to understand.
5. The longest journey begins with a single step
Rethinking your business isn’t easy. Few things worth doing are. Instead of being overwhelmed by yet another “problem”, we encourage you to focus on the opportunity to act on specific issues related to your business. Whether it’s educating consumers on the responsible use of your product or eliminating harmful materials needed to produce or package it, there are hundreds of small, incremental actions you can start today that will improve tomorrow.
6. Measure the measurable in pursuit of the intangible
If you can measure it, you can manage it. Track and share the results of your recycling or waste reduction programs. Then, think bigger. How can you integrate responsible business practices into the core of your operations? If you ship goods, can you show others how to pack more efficiently? If you sell software, can you empower youths with the technical skills to improve their quality of life? Think creatively about your existing operations and you’ll discover ways to positively impact others while delivering both measurable and intangible benefits to your brand image and company culture.
7. Goliath moved first, but David will change the world
Goliath beat David. In the battle for sustainable business, at least. Walmart, GE and other Fortune 500 companies have been marching toward sustainability for years. While this is a welcome trend, true change will arrive only when the millions of small and midsize businesses enact their own programs. Comprising 95% of all U.S. businesses, these smaller companies can act more quickly, communicate more directly and shape local communities more effectively than their larger counterparts.
8. We must act together … for tomorrow
To achieve real change, the tone and content of our discussion must become less combative. From “big business” to “environmentalist whackos”— we must discuss shared goals in a way that avoids labeling and limiting people on either side. By tackling difficult issues openly, honestly and collaboratively, we can achieve a social and environmental legacy for generations to come.