Purpose-driven companies pay attention to why, how, and what they do in order to create a more sustainable world for both people and environment. This can involve providing eco-friendly work environments, setting up employees with generous benefits and professional autonomy, using their skills to contribute in positive ways to their communities, funding projects for underserved communities, and many other activities. The bottom line is that these companies know that what’s good for the world helps the future of business thrive in the long run.
Purpose-Driven Business: The Triple Bottom Line
Purpose-driven entrepreneurship is not just about giving your business a “why.” A “why” that’s about your own passion may satisfy a consumer desire, but it isn’t exactly contributing to the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. Powerful corporate social responsibility goes beyond donating X% of profits to a cause or being visionary about the purpose behind your big idea and extends to making a sustainable impact. Purpose-driven entrepreneurs recognize that “like family, government, and religion, it [business] has been one of society’s pillars since the dawn of the industrial era.” And business has a responsibility to contribute to the health of society. Here are four companies doing it right.
Patagonia’s Environmental Ethics
Yvon Chouinard turned his passion for climbing into a brand that first focused on creating climbing equipment that was “stronger, lighter, more durable and more functional than what had been available.” But he didn’t stop there. He also makes business choices based on environmental impact, like dropping pitons from Patagonia’s offerings upon learning their negative impact on the environment and switching to 100% organically grown and ethically sourced cotton for their clothing. Patagonia was also one of the first companies to offer on-site daycare and has fostered an environment that values employees not just for what they can do for the business, but for who they are and what they want for themselves.
Portent Offers Expertise To Non-Profits
For service organizations, using in-house skills to support organizations working for social and environmental change is an excellent way to develop social responsibility. Portent, a digital marketing agency in Seattle, chooses pro-bono clients like Real Change, in the local community and works with them to “prioritize and organize the things that will have the most immediate and lasting impact on their growth, whether that’s website UX, SEO, social media advertising, or anything in between,” according to Chad Kearns, VP of client solutions. It’s not only large corporations who can sustain purpose-driven business; smaller organizations have the expertise to share.
Icelandic Glacial Provides Carbon-Neutral Water
A bottled water company faces an uphill battle when it comes to environmental sustainability. Founder Jon Olafsson wanted to take on the challenge, and in 2007 his company achieved CarbonNeutral status by using green energy for delivery, reducing internal energy usage for business activities, and offsetting remaining emissions with carbon offsets from global renewable energy projects. Olafsson is dedicated not only to environmental sustainability, but to making water available to those who need it. After the Haiti earthquake in 2010, his company was the first one on the ground providing water and gave away over $1 million in water. As he said, “it’s important that we take the responsibility that we have, because we have a lot of water; and when you have a lot of water, you have to be able to give as you can also sell.”
Chobani Commits To People
Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of Chobani, has anti-capitalist roots and once vowed he would never go to America. And yet, he’s built a successful company with a large market share in the Greek yogurt industry. Rather than jettisoning his core ethics, Ulukaya has employed them to build a better workplace. In 2016, he decided to give 10% of Chobani’s equity to his 2,000 employees in the form of stocks. He employs hundreds of refugees. And the company doesn’t stop with its own employees. The Chobani Incubator supports startups working to bring healthier food to more people—lack of access to healthy food has devastating health consequences for many communities—with $25,000 grants.
Patagonia and Icelandic Glacial support environmental sustainability by choosing what to sell and how to sell it. Chobani provides a supportive work environment and extends its mission to bring healthy food to people with an incubator. Portent leverages its talent to help social change organizations reach more people. There’s not one way to foster purpose-driven entrepreneurship, and it’s not only for large companies. As millennials become a larger and larger economic force, companies paying attention to meaningful social responsibility and the triple bottom line will well-positioned.