The 2011 SXSW Interactive Core Conversation Your Business+Social Mission= Happiness + Ka-Ching, moderated by Olivia Khalili of CauseCapitalism.com, focused on reasons for adding a social purpose to your business.
“Doing good” and feeling good isn’t enough. Motivations range from business bottom line to things that drive employees to participate.
The group in the room raised questions, fed by their own experiences, and examples, and came up with a number of ideas and solutions:
- One of the most prominent topics related to social mission was involving employees in cause-related activity. Some companies, like Burt’s Bees, tie bonuses to corporate conservation goals. Others reserve the best company parking spaces for drivers of hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles.
- Leading by example came up quite a bit. One audience member works for a nonprofit organization that, despite being a “cause” in itself, has a hard time getting its moderately-paid employees to participate in causes with the company. One suggestion for companies is to let individual employees participate, and, by example, leading their team members or departments, and let the participation flow from there.
- What drives the current trend toward doing good? Some of the audience worried out loud that as the bad economy improves, the drive to do good will melt away with it. Others suggested there is a generational effect, with Millennials generally more willing than, for example, Generation X-ers to support causes as a regular part of their lives (this is a notion supported by Donald Tapscott in his book “Grown Up Digital.”
Employee motivation is not the sole driver of cause-related initiatives- certainly, convincing company investors and executives that doing good benefits the business overall is also key, for example.
However, it is clear from this session that creating an environment supportive of corporate and employee cause participation is also vital.