What is Corporate Responsibility? A Conversation at the Good Tech Summit
Why would a company give away all the revenue from their Black Friday sales? Or donate $1 million to a nonprofit overnight? Or pull ads from a major news company on the eve of a controversial interview?
For Patagonia, Lyft, and JPMorgan Chase, respectively, these are the ways they’ve worked to make a difference in the world through corporate responsibility, following their values and the values of their customers, employees, and stakeholders.
At the Good Tech Summit, Gabe Klein, CityFi Co-Founder and city transportation guru, moderated a panel that addressed how companies are finding new and creative ways to be socially responsible and foster cultures of change in their communities. Panelists included:
- Katie Kincaid, Director of Political Partnerships and Engagement, Lyft
- John Goodwin, Brand Creative Director, Patagonia
- Eileen Braden, Executive Director & Head of Civic Engagement, JPMorgan Chase
Corporate responsibility is no longer optional—it’s an imperative driven by customers and consumers. 90% of consumers would switch to a new brand because it’s associated with a good cause. 55% of consumers would pay more for products and services from companies committed to environmental and social impact. Companies who don’t engage in social responsibility risk losing their customers to more socially responsible competitors.
“There was a time when corporations weren’t being responsible. But now, it’s an imperative driven by the customers and the consumers,” said Braden during the panel. “They’re saying it’s not enough to show up, market, and reach out to consumers—you have to make investments in the long term.”
This new drive for corporate responsibility is a nonpartisan issue. “I think there’s a responsibility for all of us to step in,” said Kincaid, “While the rhetoric out there might be negative, there are things that we can be doing everyday as individuals, as companies, as communities to support one another no matter your political beliefs.”
The panelists also discussed both the internal and external factors associated with corporate responsibility, and what impact those initiatives have on employee retention. “I wasn’t looking to move to California,” said Goodwin about his employer, Patagonia, “ But it was enticing to work for what I consider one of the more nontraditional companies. We offer environmental internships to anyone at the company, where you get to travel a month at a time to work on vetted environmental projects. That draws a lot of people there.”
Here are some of the lessons these three companies learned through their corporate responsibility initiatives:
- Companies with strong values can more easily make quick decisions for social good
- People not only want to support companies with purpose, but they want to work for companies with purpose
- Companies have a role in heading responsibility initiatives that government can’t or won’t do—if their leadership will step forward and do it
Corporate responsibility is a key part of doing business now; companies who avoid it do so at their own peril. To hear the full stories behind each of these companies’ responsibility initiatives, and how you can apply the lessons learned to your own initiatives, watch the full conversation here.
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