Original article at: Forbes
Written By: Raoul Davis
"The global business community is in the midst of its largest-ever major transformations driven by employees, shareholders and the general public. Overall, these constituencies – particularly millennials – are demanding companies adhere to social responsibility by improving community through proactive decisions. The new cry is for companies to conduct business with a conscience. The “business as usual” method is no longer acceptable; businesses are expected to give back to their communities.
Consumer influence isn’t only applied to companies directly through withholding or awarding available dollars. A growing number of industries around the world are expected to provide verifiable merit of their socially responsible efforts.
Company heads and business leaders are finding their growth, profitability and even survival hinge on including philanthropic efforts in their business plans. Alignment with organizations that are involved in contributing to the betterment of social and environmental causes is vital for harnessing the buying power of those that make up the modern market.
Below are three strategies to naturally fuse philanthropy into your company culture.
Get The Ball Rolling And Hold Onto The Possibilities
It stands to reason that it’s usually easier to integrate philanthropy into the structure of your business from the start. However, the old adage “there’s no time like the present” applies when it comes to developing such a culture. One of my favorite mottos is a variation of a time-tested quote; my version is “Rome wasn’t built in a day, however, let’s go ahead and break out our shovels.”
Gilead’s Science is an example of how a company can aspire to the top of the new business model. It has been ranked the largest cash donor in a survey by The Chronicle of Philanthropy for multiple years for its in-kind donations and charitable giving. The company achieved this by addressing the needs of people around the world plagued by life-threatening diseases. In 2005, it established the nonprofit Gilead Foundation which provides grants and donations to help expand outreach and access to health services, education and prevention that specifically concern hepatitis, HIV and liver disease in underserved communities worldwide. This all began with a leadership decision to commit to philanthropy a little over a decade ago.
This all began with a leadership decision to commit to philanthropy a little over a decade ago.
Another impressive component of Gilead’s success is that even in the midst of changing CEOs, the company was able to maintain its philanthropic focus as new CEO John F. Miligan was recognized on the Forbes Global Game Changers List after just his first year.
Restaurant Technologies (a client of mine) is another example of successful philanthropy integration. The company has become the leader in safe and smart ways to manage cooking oil in the restaurant industry. Advanced technology in the back of the house is used to automate the difficult and dangerous process of managing oil – from ordering to recycling into biofuels.
Restaurant Technologies CEO Jeff Kiesel, a former GE executive, has helped the company grow by shifting the culture to being more socially conscious. The company abides by what it dubs the five C's – customer, character, commitment, courage and community – and every employee has involvement in ways to give back on company time, from volunteering at food pantries to raising money for the company’s own educational foundation for its employees’ children.
Part of the key to its success was Kiesel’s willingness to propose the development of the five Cs that drive the culture after concluding that philanthropy would be at the core of the company’s focus. Other companies need to determine what their own key focuses are. However, proposing a cultural shift is just part of the story. What made RTI's model work is that Kiesel implemented the philanthropic activities that benefited employees. The company is philanthropic from the inside out, which increased buy-in.
Put Your Money Where Your Mission Is
The only way anyone will take your company seriously is by putting your resources where your mouth is. By doing this, you will quickly rise to a place of serious consideration and respect, and everyone who sees it will more readily get in your corner.
Few do this better than Arnold (Cairui) Fu, founder, chairman and CEO of the China-based company Hujiang EdTech, a unicorn company in the online education industry with over a $1 billion valuation and 140 million users. Fu became a recognized entrepreneur in China by raising eyebrows and allotting a significant portion of the firm’s revenue to philanthropic efforts. His dream of “making education easier, fairer, and more enjoyable through the internet” led to the development of the Hu+ (Hujia) Project that supplies optimized and high-quality educational resources through internet technology. Since its launch a year and a half ago, the Hu+ project has made significant development, reaching 500,000 students from over 1,000 schools in 30 provinces in China so far.
For companies without this type of financial bandwidth or technology, they can take their area of core expertise and provide it to a nonprofit or community cause. If you're a design firm, offer to create a website. If you're a project management company, offer to help an organization in need run projects together. We can all tithe our expertise to an organization or cause; they will be better for our efforts.
Starting the process of integrating philanthropy into your corporate culture, doing what you can when you can, including everyone in the process, and providing a clear sense of purpose through investment will lead you to greater success. You will be making a difference for which you and everyone associated with you will be proud. Companies that do good win the hearts of their customers."