The range of companies engaging in social missions proves that being in shape has never been hotter. Chris Gale thinks that business can be a powerful tool for positive change, provided CEOs’ hearts are really in the right place.
Gale began his career in charities, investigating how businesses might morally support development in low-income countries. He is now the Head of Social Impression for eBay UK.
Marks & Spencer, a British food, fashion, and homeware shop, was one, and Ben & Jerry’s, a British ice cream company, was the other. The social objective of the ice cream company is almost as old as the company itself. “You’ve got all these people who adore cookie dough: How can you talk to them about something that matters?” Gale says of Ben and Jerry’s business model.
On the other hand, eBay is a relative newcomer to the concept of businesses as positive changemakers — but it’s aiming high. According to Gale, eBay’s global aim is to provide financial options to everyone on the planet. In the UK, this takes the form of free coaching initiatives to help social goal enterprises reach a bigger audience, which is featured on the eBay for Change marketplace.
Here are Gale’s major takeaways on how — and why — businesses should embrace a social purpose, the pitfalls to avoid, and how to balance the desire to do good with the need for profit.
What Are the Differences Between a Social Enterprise, a Nonprofit, and a B Corporation?
Socially conscious organizations are just as clogged with jargon as the rest of the business world! Here’s a quick explanation:
According to Congress, there are several different types of nonprofit organisations. Profits from these businesses may not allowed to use profits to enrich shareholders or individuals. Any funds generated must be used right once to advance the cause with the organisation. Donations and grants are occasionally used to support these organisations.
A social enterprise or social purpose business, is a company that produces money by meeting market needs and then donates the proceeds to a charitable cause.
According to Gale, the line between a social company that invests 100 per cent of its profits back into its cause and a charity might blur at times.
He continues, “What’s at the core of a social company is that you simply operate as a business.” “Rather than grants, the greatest way to announce your earnings is via a business model, which you then spend back into your impact model.”
A B Corp is a certification that for-profit firms (as opposed to nonprofit organisations) may get by meeting certain social and environmental responsibility standards.
Unlike the term “social business,” B Corp does not refer to a certain kind of company or a specific social goal. Although social enterprises may get B Corp certifications (unlike charities), B Corp-certified businesses aren’t always social enterprises.
How Big Businesses Can Profit from a Trigger
You’ve probably never heard of many of the localised NGOs functioning all over the globe unless you’ve volunteered or depended on certain philanthropic organisations yourself. Nonetheless, if you’re reading this, you’ve almost certainly heard of eBay and Ben & Jerry’s.
Nonprofits may not always have access to more resources, broader platforms, or stronger voices than corporations. As a result, when a company — especially a family name — starts a conversation about a cause, it reaches a larger audience and more easily penetrates public awareness.
However, having large corporations become the megaphone of a social trigger has its drawbacks. “The whole purpose of Ben & Jerry’s was to get that message out extra widely,” Gale confesses. And sometimes we did a terrific job, and sometimes we didn’t, because it’s very difficult to get the framing of these things right.”
He adds that some clientele, particularly in the United Kingdom, struggled to connect an ice cream company with social justice ideas.
It’s a shaky equilibrium. Nonprofits have the hands-on experience necessary to understand what is needed to further the cause. Others rely on organisations to disseminate similar ideas, but on a lesser scale.
Meanwhile, large manufacturers have platforms that allow them to reach many people. However, unless these companies consider the expertise of nonprofit partners, there’s a risk that the message may be lost in translation or that the general public would be unwilling to listen to it from a corporation.
Learn how to keep your business stable and achieve your goals.
Having a social aim is excellent for business’ bank accounts, with more consumers than ever bringing their ideals along with their wallets for shopping sprees.
Customers said they were 4 to 6 times more likely to buy from and support a purpose-led brand than a brand without a clear social goal, according to a global study published in 2020 that looked at 75 companies and interviewed 8,000 people.
On the other hand, Gale is wary of businesses that are compelled to go down the social entrepreneurship path by a desire to attract higher-income and more loyal customers. “You will never drive any change on the planet,” he argues, since “you will always be reactive to the desires of your clients, or the topics that they are obsessed with that day.”
Corporations that see social entrepreneurship as a marketing effort will never have the deep and long-term commitment to effectively affect change. Gale claims that he had the same problem when working in international development research. “There’s an element of, ‘Is this something that’s wanted?'” he adds. “That’s changed into the greatest manner I consider a few of this work….” It was often about people coming in, displaying their faces, and then flying out, which is absurd.”
If you want to build a company that positively impacts the world, you must start with a cause that matters to you. “You start by asking yourself, ‘What is the change I want to see on the planet?'” Gale explains. “And then you say, ‘How am I going to communicate with my viewers in that?'” The spherical technique is not the opposite.
Find out how to Choose Your Trigger.
Choosing one of the many possible social causes to devote your social company to is even more difficult than choosing between Ben & Jerry’s flavours. They’re all worthwhile, and you’d want to help them all for those who can.
Gale suggests breaking it down into smaller chunks when you have a big idea — like global peace or eradicating world hunger.
For example, eBay’s global aim is to ensure international financial alternatives. “That’s a huge goal,” Gale adds. His challenge was to put up a strategy that made sense for the UK workforce in particular and was more achievable. They decided to market financial alternatives to underserved populations.
Ben & Jerry’s, on the other hand, was determined in 2015 to raise awareness about the rights of immigrants and asylum seekers. The situation of displaced people was brought to the public’s attention when large numbers of people fled Syria and other war-torn countries, just as the United States and Western European nations became more unfriendly to refugees.
“There was a lot going on on the planet, and a lot of people talking about displacement,” Gale adds. “However, we also understood it was going to come to an end, and there weren’t many businesses talking about it.”
The general public is interested in the Center. As diverse international events dominated the news, many Japanese migrants dwindled. Because of recent difficulties related to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, it’s altering again. Throughout this time, Ben & Jerry’s has continued to champion refugee rights and many other causes.
Gale understands why some people are apprehensive about corporations’ ability to improve the world. However, he feels it is possible, having seen it from both within and outside the system, provided the leaders are honest about their goals.
“I believe in it,” he adds, “but it’s very much driven by the personalities and people within these companies: whether or not it’s a marketing trick or whether or not it’s really entrenched into who you are and what you want to be as a business.”
The dialog with Chris Gale continues on the Leading with Genuine Care podcast. We discuss extra about his time within the nonprofit sector, working for Ben & Jerry’s, the social enterprise startups eBay is supporting, and a lot extra. Join with me on Twitter and LinkedIn and sustain with my firm imageOne. Try my website or a few of my different work here.