The criteria for doing business with, investing in, and working for a company have changed. Innovation, price, quality, a good customer experience, rock-solid marketing, and a strong employer brand remain the price of admission for any company. Among all the organizations in your sector that embrace those qualities, customers, investors, and employees still have to make a choice. Given this choice, companies that live their values will win. And they will win big.
We are entering a new economy in which what a business stands for is a deciding factor for stakeholders. Many consumers will actually pay more for products and services from companies who demonstrate their commitment to their beliefs. Top job candidates will take lower salaries to work for those companies.
Major investment firms are creating funds that are surging in value made up of just companies; “values-based” investing is a growing trend with funds (as one bank puts it) that look beyond growth potential to corporate practices, policies and business activities that are in harmony and with and support an investor’s principles when it comes to social responsibility; environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations; and investments made by the organization that will produce a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact in addition to a financial return (known as “impact investing”). In 2016, investors seeking financial returns from companies that also produced improvements in social good totaled US$22.1 billion across 8,000 investments. Impact investing—less than a decade old in 2016—had US$114 billion in assets under management. On average, “meaningful brands” perform 200 percent better than stock index averages.