#AHAMOMENT: SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY CAN SAVE YOUR COMPANY

Fifty years ago, companies had an average life of 60 years. Now, they barely survive to see their 14th anniversary.

Of course, that average is dragged down by startups with extremely low survival rates. So if your company is already more than 10 years old, there’s no need to start worrying just yet.

However, if you haven’t changed anything fundamental in your company in those last 10 years, you may have cause for concern. Over the coming years, your product, services – even your organization itself – may fall so far behind that they can no longer compete. Life moves fast , and if your goods and services no longer seem like good value, the demanding millennials who buy them will not hesitate to ruthlessly turn their backs.

So, what can you do? The simple answer is to change. And the easiest way to do it is to change things little by little – that way, it’s not such a painful process. The key question is which way to go.

And that’s where we need to return to social responsibility. It’s one of the factors that can help a company outlive its competitors.

But these things are unrelated, you say! How will it help me stay afloat if I help kids or puppies, plant trees or pick up litter, or walk up the stairs instead of taking the elevator? Nonsense!

The answer is, it can do just that. Sometimes, while making changes in your business it’s not enough to run a social campaign if you don’t care about the wellbeing of children or puppies. It’s not enough to participate in ‘Let’s Do It’ once a year and post photos on your social networks. It’s not enough to donate a decent sum at Christmas to a charity that helps those less fortunate. Social responsibility should be casual and constant thing.

What will help is when the purpose of the social responsibility coincides with that of your company, and changes your products, services, organization and customer relationships.

Here are some examples. Let’s take Bosch, which has allocated tens of millions of euros – half of its R&D budget – to developing energy-saving technologies. It’s environmentally friendly, it reduces climate change – and it’s the future of household electrical appliances produced by Bosch.

Netflix offers three times longer paid maternity and paternity leave than the market average – almost a year (52 weeks), while HP only agrees to pay for a month and a half (10 weeks). This programme helps Netflix to attract talent that is likely to bring up happier children, while the whole family has time to get on the couch and watch a movie together on Netflix. Only talent that has a profound understanding of its clients can create a service hundreds of millions worldwide love to use.

After losing touch with its consumers and thus losing market share, this year Gillette decided to contribute to social change by encouraging men to be better human beings. Its statement triggered some anger and negative comments – even a boycott of the company’s goods (which must have been pretty tough for the agency and the company management at the time). It was a bold move, but Gillette realized that everyday consumer goods had to change along with the public – not necessarily in terms of their composition, but in the values they represent. And after a tumultuous campaign, Gillette’s shoppers, bored by years of marriage, seem to be falling in love with the brand once more.

What will your company need to look like in 10 or 20 years’ time if you want to survive? What will the world be like then, and what will be important to people? Whatever the answer, it’s high time we started preparing for it.