6 Ways Your Company Can Build A World that Works for EveryoneDec 20, 2022
These six organizations have business models that enable all of their stakeholders to thrive. Here’s how yours can, too.
By Amanda Kathryn Hydro and Amanda Conley Ayers
Imagine that you have the ability to transform your organization in a way that not only drives financial success for the company but also promotes the success of all your stakeholders. In what ways would your company use this ability to build a world that works for everyone?
As we mentioned in “What Is a Stakeholder — and Why Should Every Leader Care?”, the Business Roundtable has set a mandate for this kind of stakeholder-centric business to become the default way of doing things, but it’s far from common. Most business leaders like the idea of building a stronger company that enables all of their stakeholders to thrive, but they wonder: What does this actually look like in practice?
It can be hard to identify an organization that utilizes a stakeholder focus in this way. First of all, there are many different ways of defining and identifying a stakeholder. The Institute for Corporate Transformation uses the Stakeholder Score — an open-source, iterative tool with a comprehensive integrated approach, designed by stakeholders themselves — to help companies understand hard-to-measure stakeholder relationships that predict whether a company will thrive or wither over time. It also helps business leaders identify how they might expand their definition of success to include all of their stakeholders, and to give them indicators of how to improve their score over time.
The Stakeholder Score is also an incredibly useful tool for identifying companies that are successfully integrating their stakeholders into their business model, because it uses six unique areas of impact to measure a company’s journey toward building a world that works for everyone.
The following six companies serve as excellent examples of these six areas of impact. May their efforts highlight and identify ways to integrate a stakeholder-centric approach into your company. By improving your organization’s impact in any (or, ideally, all) of these six areas, your business has a better chance to thrive for the long haul — and truly serve as a force for good.
1. Build collaborative relationships with all of your stakeholders.
Cultivate long-term trusting partnerships through open communication and transparency that helps all of the people impacted by the business to thrive.
Divine Chocolate is a global, farmer-owned chocolate company whose founding purpose was to “help farmers gain a share of the wealth they are helping to create.” Over the last 20 years, the company has worked to repair the transactional relationships that traditionally exploit farmers’ contributions. In fact, farmers own the biggest stake in the company and share its profits. By creating supportive partnerships between farmers, suppliers, and consumers, Divine Chocolate has transformed the lives of farmers while securing the sustainable future of cocoa and cocoa farming.
2. Help people thrive.
Cultivate the talents and potential of the people your company impacts — to help them live their best life.
Menlo Innovations is a software company which, for the last twenty years, has designed and developed custom software solutions for their clients in just about every possible capacity. You might be thinking, “And? This description could define any number of successful software companies,” and you’d be right. However, Menlo Innovations stands apart from many other software companies in the way they approach success through joy. You see, Menlonians understand that producing quality software isn’t easy; it requires a supportive culture that nurtures the potential and talent of their teams. They understand that fear kills joy, so they work hard to build an environment free of unnecessary anxiety, enabling their people to harness their joy and build it into their projects. Simultaneously, they develop processes that ensure they are not only delivering solutions but delighting their clients with the results.
3. Dismantle systems of discrimination.
Leverage business practices to remove barriers to employment, and connect people from different backgrounds, identities, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Televerde provides world-class, end-to-end sales and marketing solutions for their clients. Seems straight forward enough, but there’s an interesting twist. You see, Televerde intentionally employs incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. You know how most companies ask job applicants to check the box if they’ve ever committed a crime and then proceed to take that applicant off the candidate list? At Televerde, nearly all of their employees have checked that box, and for them, that’s a good thing. The company invests in women by giving them a second chance. They provide them with extensive training and educational services to help them achieve their highest potential, and it works. Not only does Televerde deliver best-in-class services to their clients, the incarcerated women who work for Televerde go on to successfully re-enter their communities, reunite with their families, and build meaningful and rewarding careers.
4. Grow financial wellbeing.
Rewire financial goals to ensure everyone in the value chain achieves financial security and improves their quality of life.
PayActiv creates products that empower more people to participate in the economy they helped create. We could stop right there, because that’s “growing financial prosperity” in a nutshell. But the work PayActive does is so cool, we just want to take a moment to tell you more. In short, they’ve created technology that solves a problem two-thirds of American workers face: the gap between needing money now and having to wait for payday. Their products are designed to bring financial security, dignity, better productivity, and increased savings to the millions of hard-working men and women experiencing financial distress.
5. Increase environmental regeneration.
Redesign business processes to identify innovative ways to conserve and restore natural resources in the creation and delivery of your products and services — for the benefit of future generations.
iWi grows, harvests, and supplies algae-based nutrition to their community, which, in their own words, includes “everyone on Earth.” iWi was created to develop sustainable farming methods, to harvest nutrient-dense food, and to feed and protect the planet in order to fix the problems that threaten us all — from climate change to food and land scarcity. iWi Omega-3 is sourced from nature’s richest supply, algae. They do not remove fish or krill from the eco-system to produce it, and their farms are powered by renewable energy: sunlight and saltwater.
6. Create a company purpose.
Build a company and a culture that has a purpose beyond profit — one that’s designed to meet the needs of the world profitably.
New Belgium Brewery is dedicated to the art of making great beer and demonstrating that business can be a force for good. This intention was built into their company from the start and is reflected in their core values: “Make great beer, do right by people, inspire social and environmental change, and have a hell of a lot of fun.” The founders of New Belgium Brewery understood that values don’t matter much if you aren’t living up to them. For them, the best way to ensure they were staying true to their values, while using their business to solve social and environmental problems, was to become a certified B Corp. They use their B Corp certification to track how well they live up to their values, which empowers them to protect and nurture their culture and values.
It’s time to take action.
You can’t improve your business operations for the greater good until you evaluate how you’re doing now. If you’re intrigued by how to transform your organization into one that not only thrives financially but enables each and every one of its stakeholders to flourish too, then take the Stakeholder Score’s (free!) self-assessment today to see how your company is doing in the six areas of impact highlighted above. And then, if you’re ready to transform your company into one that works for everyone, consider enrolling in the Intrapreneur Accelerator — an on-demand, self-paced certification program that will train you to be an effective change agent for stakeholder management. Meet other changemakers and learn how to make your mark!
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