Better Business

There are many competing theories as to what a day-to-day office culture should look like. Some espouse a rigid, no frills atmosphere where work is king and everything else—conversation, coffee, camaraderie—takes a strict backseat. Others believe in a familial workplace. They prefer that employees are more than just 9 to 5 acquaintances, but, dare I say, friends. There is similar disagreement over what a corporate culture should be. Some might say austere and emotionless, while others vouch for a warm, charitable culture filled with good deeds and selfless attempts to make the world a better place. If you take that latter approach and make it transparent to the outside world, you’re looking at Better Business.

Better Business is based on the simple premise that doing good business produces good business. More than ever, people now care about the ethics behind their favorite brands. And with more media coverage on the internal workings of major organizations exposing toxic organizational values (Volkswagen and FIFA jump immediately to mind), brands today have loads to lose by behaving badly. This makes it that much easier for your brand to stand out when you announce the positive way(s) you’re impacting the world.

Better Business is based on the simple premise that doing good business produces good business.

We’re seeing Better Business more and more frequently, and across a wide span of industries. Last fall, outdoor outfitter REI announced that all of its 143 retail stores would be closed on Black Friday so that staff could spend the day outside, with their family. Additionally, every one of the company’s 1,200-plus employees was paid for a full day’s work. Shutting its doors on the busiest shopping day of the year didn’t hurt REI. In fact, online sales for the company jumped an incredible 26% that day.

Over in finance, last March, Citigroup unveiled an ambitious initiative in which all recent grads just hired by the company would be paid 60% of their salary to spend an entire year performing charity work at one of 40 different nonprofits. There aren’t yet stats to show whether this has been a boon for the company, but the AOL editorial board glowingly wrote that “Citigroup just changed the game.”

There’s no doubt that these types of actions can provide a bump in business. More importantly, though, these brands attract customers whose values align with theirs—and everybody recognizes that these are the very best customers to have. Likewise, they’ll attract employees whose values align with theirs, and well, everybody recognizes that these are the very best employees to have. Doing good business means more than turning a nice profit, and with Better Business, good business and profit go hand in hand.

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