There has been a shift in consumer thinking in recent years, as more people want to patronize businesses and service providers who have values and morals they agree with.
How do you align your business purpose with your clients' underlying values? What do you do to ingrain trust and corporate responsibility into your operating model? Do you have a process for learning the issues that your clients care about?
According to the Edelman 2012 Trust Barometer, which measures the levels of trust that consumers hold in government, media, NGOs and businesses, the actions that help better society are the best for developing trust.
The researchers found that consumers measure "societal performance" in terms of how employees are treated, whether the company invests money or time in philanthropic efforts and if it prioritizes customers over making more profits.
The study indicates that since 2008, 86 percent of respondents believe that there should be a balance between companies' pursuit of business interests and their protection of social interests. This does not mean that socially minded efforts have to take precedence over revenues. Out of the 8,000 people around the world who responded to the survey, 76 percent said they support businesses' right to turn a profit while still doing good.
"When quality and price are equal, the most important factor influencing brand choice is purpose. This outpaces design and innovation, and brand loyalty," writes Carol Cone, the global practice chair for Edelman Business and Social Purpose.
This concept ties back to what we teach about business mission statements and values at The Covenant Group. Beyond turning a profit, your business must have an underlying purpose that motivates your employees and must continue to serve clients to the best of your abilities. Without it, your sole reason for going to work every day will be either fear or greed. Those are not quality motivators, and will result in suboptimal performance and outcomes.
The Entrepreneurial Journey explains that a strong mission statement should succinctly explain your company's value proposition from the client's perspective. This allows you to differentiate yourself from other advisors and gives your prospective and existing clients a clear idea of what to expect from you. Considering that 53 percent of respondents in Edelman's research said social purpose is the most important factor when choosing between brands of equal quality and price, good deeds and corporate responsibility can set you apart from and ahead of competitors. Consider the initiatives your office has in place to better the environment and community. What can you do to demonstrate and showcase your commitment to corporate responsibility?