A great example of this is Tom’s Shoes, which was founded on the idea that for every pair of shoes they sold, they would donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. Since 2006, they have donated 95+ million pairs of shoes. For every $3 in profits, $1 goes to one of their causes, whether its kid’s shoes, sight restoration procedures (780,000), weeks of safe water (722,000) or any other social cause that is important to them and their customers.
Tom’s doesn’t have to do a thing to embellish them or connect them to a cause. The work speaks for itself and public opinion takes care of the rest.
Lead authentically, and others will follow.
Social Purpose Corporations tend to draw like minds. That’s not to say you want a team of clones, built in your own image. Instead, you want people from all walks of life who have the same purpose. They are all committed to your company’s vision. If your team, customers and suppliers are excited and proud to be associated with your company, sustainable growth will come naturally.
This all begins with you, of course. As you think about your new enterprise, think about what is important to you. What do you genuinely care about?
As you formulate a social purpose that is aligned with your own values and passions, extend it to what a team would look like.
- What would make them proud in terms of their work at your company?
- What causes align with that sense of pride?
- What undertaking is large enough in scope that you can make a lasting impact over time.
It’s easy to give money once to a smaller cause. Any business can do that. But this will be your continual focus; it will inform your culture, shape your operations, and over time, become the lasting legacy of your business.
Think about Patagonia’s workforce. They come in all shapes and sizes and are interested in a range of outdoor pursuits, from flyfishing and mountain climbing to surfing. But they are all bonded with the same purpose – good stewardship of the environment – creating a motivated, almost fanatical workforce that is committed to the company, its customers and its reason for existing. Everyone, from the CEO to the mailroom clerk, is part of the salesforce.