“Let’s just keep business separate and then let’s do some good stuff”– a misconception?
A remarkable speech was given by Asa Siegel, founder of STAMBA Superfoods, who stated that companies could increase their brand awareness and profitability through doing good. Actually, according to Asa, everybody would profit, if company leaders stopped separating business practices from actions that benefit the society or the planet. Because that’s exactly what it means to do good – supporting “the sustainability of our earth and our natural resources. And it also means to stand for things that are beneficial for the health and wellbeing of people and communities”, Asa said.
The holistic health and business counselor emphasized the fact that more and more consumers are becoming aware of these issues. “Think about yourself in any given opportunity when you have a product that’s available, a service that’s available, a hotel to stay in or any business to engage with. And you learn something positive about what that company is doing, stands for and represents.” Would we give our business to that business or a competitor that has not made us aware that they are doing that or is actually having practices that are detrimental was the question Asa raised. How would we decide? The answer was quite clear to the delegates. Asa’s conclusion from this comprehensible example: it is the conscious and unconscious decisions people make every day that propel the paradigm shift towards a soulful economy that is in progress.
Further, Asa gave several examples of businesses that already successfully increased their brand awareness by letting customers know about their beneficial commitments as well as companies that turned their hindrance into a benefit in the first place. One of them was a fast food chain serving sushi and Asian dishes in restaurants around the world. “The way that you typically get your food at this restaurant is to go through a whole array of pre-prepared foods that are already packaged for you”, Asa explained. “You have a lot of packaging with every dish. Just imagine a plastic container for every different dish that you are getting. The restaurant’s location in midtown Manhattan doesn’t even offer recycling.”
The restaurant in New York that Asa was referring to had a business model that for the sake of convenience chose to give customers tons and tons of packaging leaving them with just one option; to put it into land fill where that plastic is going to take forever, if ever to actually biodegrade. Asa decided to speak to the manager in order to bring this issue to his awareness. “I told him that I will not be frequenting his business anymore, even though my family and I love to come here when we come into the city. We are not going to be doing business with you anymore as long as you don’t have recycling options.”
It turned out that the management had been discussing this issue internally already, so the manager and Asa engaged quickly. “We started talking about the different ways in which his business could not only offer recycling, but reduce the packaging that they were using, find compostable alternatives. And he was very interested in committing to it and move things forward.” According to Asa, an increase in profitability through doing good depends on three things: finding business practices that could or already serve the environment or the society. Secondly, committing to them; in this case full and complete recycling. And last but not least bringing highlight to the fact that you have done so. “This is the third piece. Simply, like many businesses do, showing you after you’re done eating that this is what you’re doing. And by recycling, and by composting, you’re reducing the carbon foot print by such and such degree. This leads to this much reduction in greenhouse gases, these things are actually beneficial in the way that you relate with our restaurant, because we are committed to them.”
Just like that a business could take one of its biggest hindrances in terms of being at the forefront of the market place and turn it into a benefit for their company’s brand. And it could be consciously and subconsciously attracting other clientele, and certainly wouldn’t alienate any of their existing clientele, said Asa. It’s a win win situation for everybody involved, because customers on the other end are happier about their purchases. Asa described it as “powerful in the sense that through a business transaction somebody can be invited to make the experience of actually making a beneficial contribution through their market behavior”. This kind of commitment to finding, to highlighting, to bringing forward ways in which business activities are doing good contributes to a very gracious and benevolent cycle. The more that there is a commitment from the business end to bring attention to these beneficial aspects, the more customers become accustomed to them. And as a result the more pressure it creates in the market place for other companies to follow suit.
Now, could beneficial business practices just be a waning trend? Clearly not, predicted Asa: “If we look at the fundamental paradigm that doing good is an imperative for us to continue living life on this planet, then how could it wane? It’s not set up to wane, it’s set up to grow, expand and actually completely change the way that the business world works.” Good news, not only for businesses, but for our planet earth and everybody walking on it.