The Changing World of Business

Sunjuna Chalasani.jpg

The Changing World of Business

by Sunjuna Chalasani, Vice-President of Membership

“Change is constant” is an unfortunate oxymoron.

It represents hope, progress, and the never-ending idea that the world is getting better. In the past decade, there’s been a shift in the way things are done. More and more businesses today are altering their organizational model to bring about a positive and impactful contribution to the world. Here are some ways they are accomplishing this goal!

Corporate social responsibility which refers to the attempts of companies to assess the social, economic, and environmental impacts of their activities and take action to reduce these if necessary. There are primarily two types of social businesses: for-profit and private sector businesses that have a social goal. These companies want to maximize profits but not at the cost of their primary social goal. In other words, while they do worry about their financial bottom line, they want to ensure that their business has a positive impact on society and the environment. They are the prime examples of corporate social responsibility. Today more than ever, half of consumers are willing to pay more for a product if they know that the company is charitable. Incorporating philanthropy into their business plans allows business owners to experience revenue growth as well as allowing the world to experience social improvements. One of the biggest example in Michigan is Quicken Loans. The company has been doing its part to help revitalize the troubled Detroit economy by investing in its infrastructure and development. The company even offers cash incentives to employees that move to Downtown Detroit, allowing them to help rebuild the once bustling city.

B-corps, or benefit corporations, are a form of for-profit companies that are committed to solving social and environmental problems through the power of business. To be serious about this commitment, companies can become certified B-corps through the nonprofit B Lab. Applicants must pass a certification process that looks at how the company creates value for non-shareholding stakeholders like employees, the local community and the environment. There are more than 2,350 certified B-corps globally that meet these rigorous standards today. Major brands like Ben & Jerry’s, The Honest Company, and Patagonia are all B-corps.

Fair Trade is trade that attempts to be socially, economically, and environmentally responsible. According to the World Fair Trade Organization, the official definition is " a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade organizations have a clear commitment to Fair Trade as the principal core of their mission. They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade." Organizations meeting fair trade requirements are recognized by the WFTO and include global giants. There are ten principles these organizations are expected to uphold to qualify for the certification: 10 Principles that Fair Trade Organizations must follow in their day-to-day work and carries out monitoring to ensure these principles are upheld: Principle One: Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers; Principle Two: Transparency and Accountability; Principle Three: Fair Trading Practices; Principle Four: Payment of a Fair Price; Principle Five: Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor; Principle Six: Commitment to Non-Discrimination, Gender Equity and Freedom of Association; Principle Seven: Ensuring Good Working Conditions; Principle Eight: Providing Capacity Building; Principle Nine: Promoting Fair Trade; Principle Ten: Respect for the Environment.

In a fast-changing world, it seems as if progress is inevitable. Every day, more and more people leave poverty and gain access to the basic human rights they deserve. Positive business helps us push this along.

Maurice S. Henderson