Why Social Responsibility Makes Good Business Sense
The goal of every business is to do well. But in doing so, you can also do good. And your customers want you to.
Today’s consumers are socially conscious and lean toward brands that have a higher purpose. Research shows that if given a choice, most consumers will purchase a brand with a cause over one without. Think about the RED initiative started several years ago by Bono of U2 fame that some of the biggest brands in the world have lined up behind, including Starbucks, Apple and Target. Or Toms, which through its One for One program donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased in stores around the world or contributes funds to abolish bullying in schools.
You might think slavery was abolished centuries ago. But it is very much alive and well. There are an estimated 20 to 30 million forced laborers in global supply chains today – from conflict minerals in the Congo to fishing in Thailand. And it is likely some of these slaves work for you.
Legislation stretching from the US to the UK and beyond requires businesses to provide greater transparency into their supply chains and validate that their suppliers are providing fair wages and fair labor practices. Yet most companies still have no idea if there are slaves in their supply chains. And this is a risk – not only in terms of business continuity, but brand integrity. From food producers to garment manufacturers, companies exposed for using slave labor to produce goods and services face consumer backlash from which many never recover. Most times, it isn’t their suppliers using forced labor, but their suppliers’ suppliers. Yet they ultimately bear responsibility and suffer the consequences.
In today’s data-driven and connected economy, this doesn’t need to be the case.
From Facebook and Uber to Twitter and Pinterest, networks have transformed every aspect of our personal lives. It’s time for business to put them to use to eradicate slavery and eliminate this threat.
Just like Amazon or Netflix uses the information on their networks to give members ratings and guidance on which books, products, or films to buy, business networks can provide recommendations on what to source, when, and from which suppliers and deliver a new level of transparency into supplier capabilities, performance, and social and environmentally responsible practices.
Take SAP’s Ariba Network, which connects more than 2 million companies around nearly a trillion dollars in commerce every year and FRDM, an incredibly powerful database created by non-profit Made in a Free World that maps the bill of materials of countless number of products and services right down to raw materials and labor inputs. The two are combining their assets to deliver new insights and transparency that companies can use to:
- Evaluate their spending and supply chain and get a view into areas where forced labor might exist.
- Be alerted to potential future risks by triangulating a myriad of inputs – like supplier performance ratings, payment history, etc.
- Identify alternative sources of supply with supply chain transparency and fair labor practices to help mitigate these risks.
- Access category-specific playbooks that provide a framework for detecting forced labor and outline actions to remediate it.
Be a Hero
Today’s modern brands have embraced the idea of going beyond the functional value they provide by aligning with a cause. Eradicating slave labor is a movement that every single company can get involved with.The data and technology is readily available. Why not use it to align to shared values with your customers, elevate your brand and make the world a better place? It’s a huge opportunity. And in today’s socially conscious world, a responsibility. Take it. And become a hero.
Follow me: @aliciatillman