How to be a business that achieves change as well as profit – News Couple

How to be a business that achieves change as well as profit

Being nice has never been more cool, given the number of companies involved in social missions. Chris Gill believes that business can truly be a vehicle for positive change – if leaders’ hearts are truly in the right place.

Now Head of Social Impact at eBay UK, Gill began his career in non-profit organizations, researching how companies can ethically drive development in low-income countries. He moved into the business side through On Purpose, founded by Tom Rippin, where he worked for two socially conscious companies for six months each.

One was Marks & Spencer’s UK selling food, fashion and household items, and the other was Ben & Jerry’s UK office. The social mission of the ice cream brand is almost as old as the company itself. Gill describes Ben and Jerry’s business model as, “You have all these people who love cookie dough: How do you talk to them about something important?”

In contrast, eBay is relatively new to the concept of companies as positive change makers — but they aim for high goals. Gill says eBay’s global mission is to ensure economic opportunity for everyone in the world. In the UK, this manifests itself in the form of free training schemes to help businesses with social purposes find wider audiences, offered in the eBay for Change marketplace.

Here are Gale’s key insights into how — and why — companies should integrate a social message, mistakes to avoid, and how to balance the desire to do good with the drive to profit.

The difference between a social enterprise, a non-profit organization, and a company B

Socially conscious organizations are as full of jargon as the rest of the business world! Here is a short explanation:


There are technically many types of nonprofits, as classified by Congress. These organizations are not allowed to use profits to enrich shareholders or individuals. Any money raised should go directly towards running the organization and furthering the cause. These organizations usually make money through donations and grants.

Social institution

A social enterprise or business with a social purpose is a company that generates profits by satisfying market needs, and uses these profits to help with a social mission.

Gill says the difference between a social enterprise that puts 100% of its profits back on its mission, and a nonprofit, sometimes gets gray.

“The essence of the social enterprise is that you exist as a business,” he explains. “The way you make your profits is through the business model, not grants, and reinvest that into your impact model.”

B Corp

AB Corp is a certification that for-profit companies (as opposed to non-profit organizations) can earn by meeting certain standards of social and environmental responsibility.

Unlike the term social enterprise, B Corp does not describe a specific type of company, nor does it refer to a specific social mission. Social enterprises can also obtain B Corp certifications (as opposed to nonprofit organizations), but B Corp certified businesses are not necessarily social enterprises.

How big companies can benefit from a cause

Unless you’ve volunteered yourself or relied on some charitable service, you’ve probably never heard of most local nonprofits operating around the world. However, if you’re reading this, you’ve definitely heard of eBay and Ben & Jerry’s.

Corporations typically have more resources, larger platforms, and higher voices than nonprofits. So when a business—especially a household name—starts a conversation about an issue, it reaches more people and enters mainstream consciousness more easily.

However, there is a downside to large corporations becoming the mouthpiece of a social cause. As Gill readily admits, “The whole idea of ​​Ben & Jerry’s was to get this message out more widely. Sometimes we did a good job at it, sometimes we didn’t, because it’s really hard to get the framing right for those messages.”

He explains that some clients, particularly in the UK, have struggled to equate a company that sells ice cream with messages about social justice.

It’s a delicate balance. Nonprofits have the practical experience required to understand what is needed to advance a cause. People expect nonprofits to share these messages, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Meanwhile, major brands have platforms that allow them to reach a lot of people. But unless these brands take into account the wisdom of nonprofit partners, there’s a risk that the message will get lost in translation, or the public simply isn’t ready to hear it from the company.

How to balance work and purpose

With more consumers bringing their personal values ​​as well as their wallets in order to shop, having a social purpose proves beneficial for business bank accounts.

A global study published in 2020 that analyzed 75 companies and interviewed 8,000 respondents reported that, on average, customers said they were four to six times more likely to buy and support a purpose-based brand than a brand without a clear social mission.

However, Gill worries about companies being pushed down the path of social enterprise by dreams of higher revenues and richer clients. “You will never drive a change in the world, because you will always be reacting to the needs of consumers, or the things they care about that day,” he says.

Companies that view social enterprises as a marketing campaign will never have a deep and lasting commitment that actually results in real change. Gill says he encountered this problem while working in international development research as well. There is an element of, ‘Is this required?’ “This has moved into the way I think about some of this work. … It was often about people traveling inland, showing their faces, and flying away, which is ridiculous.”

If you really want to build a business that makes a positive difference in the world, you have to start with a cause that interests you. “You start by asking, ‘What change do I want to make in the world?'” says Gill. ‘ ‘ and end with ‘How do I get my audience involved in that?’ Not the other way around.

How to choose your case

Choosing which of the many potential social issues you want your social enterprise to stick to is harder than choosing between Ben & Jerry’s flavours. They are all worthwhile, and you want to help them all if you can.

If you have a big idea – world peace, ending world hunger – Gill recommends breaking it down into something manageable.

For example, take eBay’s global mission to secure global economic opportunities. “That’s a big goal,” says Gill. His challenge was to come up with a strategy that made sense for the UK team specifically, and could be more manageable. They decided to promote economic opportunities for marginalized communities.

In contrast, in 2015, Ben & Jerry’s decided to highlight the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. The plight of the displaced was in the public eye, as large numbers of people fled Syria and other war-torn countries, just as the United States and Western European countries became more hostile toward refugees.

“There has been a lot going on in the world, and a lot of people are talking about displacement,” Gill says. “But we also knew this was going to stop, and there weren’t many companies talking about this issue.”

The general focus on refugees from the Middle East waned as other world events made headlines. It’s turning backwards now, thanks to recent crises like the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Throughout, Ben & Jerry’s has continued to advocate for refugee rights and many other causes.

Gill understands why some are skeptical about whether companies can really change the world. But after seeing it from the outside and within the system, he believes it is possible, if the leaders are sincere in their goals.

“I believe in it, but it’s largely driven by the personalities and people within those companies: whether it’s a marketing ploy or whether it’s really embedded in who you are, and what you want to be as a business,” he says.

Conversation continues with Chris Gill on Leadership with real care Audio notation. We talk more about his time in the nonprofit sector, working for Ben & Jerry’s, eBay-backed social startups, and much more. contact with me Twitter And LinkedIn And keep up with my company one picture. check out my website Or some of my other works Here.

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