We were recently asked by a client why we chose to set up Good Karma Media, our data driven management, PR and marketing consultancy, as a registered social enterprise. She followed up with, ‘...weren’t you afraid of failure as no one has done this in your space before?
For us it was actually a simple decision, because we consciously didn’t want to do it any other way. And failure is not an option because what we are doing is bigger than us which provides huge corporate motivation and personal commitment on an emotional level.
As a team we have worked in social enterprise and on the fringes of the third sector for many years and we know what motivates us. We have our own deep desire to make an impact and this is the best way that we can think of doing it. Put simply we repurpose our talent and commitment and make sure that marketing budget spent with us works harder for our clients because we redirect our profits to help cure social and environmental dis-ease. This is hardwired into our Articles of Association.
Intrinsically we believe that business can play a massive part in addressing society’s biggest problems - in fact we would go further - it can actually solve them. Whereas governments are politic and systemic , businesses can be more flexible, innovative and pragmatic. Where governments can encourage and incentivise, businesses can act, with or without their blessing and at pace.
And then there are the externalities around the shifts in investor and consumer sentiment and a growing, powerful urgency that demands humans to address climate change and many of the social inequalities that pervade our society. This for Good Karma Media is agency enough. The good news is that our position and long-held beliefs are now starting to be supported by a raft of heavy-weight business academics and thought-leaders in works such as 'Grow the Pie' by Professor Alex Edmans (London Business School) and 'Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire’ by Professor Rebecca Henderson (Harvard) – both published in 2020.
We believe passionately that we have a role to play in growing the pie for all stakeholders and that reimagining the role of capitalism is not whimsical, it can actually be done. In fact the conversation is happening in boardrooms everywhere as you read this blog - the train has left the station.
We are a catalyst for transformation however difficult that shift might be, because in short, we believe this has to happen. Our role is to help the brands and the companies we work with to develop and demonstrate the scale of influence and impact that they can have so that they become leaders in social value transformation through their everyday business practices.
It is not difficult to see the brand benefits of market leadership but it is sometimes difficult to know how and where to start.
We appreciate that tearing up a long adopted business strategy of profit maximisation and replacing it with purpose driven business objectives is very challenging. It requires a fundamental shift in the consciousness of leadership, the buy-in of investors, shareholders and employees, and an alignment (often through innovation) with markets and customers that is intrinsic to the commerciality of the business. This in our experience is change on a seismic scale and could be prohibitively expensive.
For many companies, of whatever size, this presents a barrier to adoption, even in the wake of growing evidence that proves the attractiveness of this business transformation.
For these companies we advocate what we call ‘Conscious Social Pragmatism’ (CSP), an incremental, planned and measured shift that demonstrates the value of change over time. Whether this is through coaching around topics like diversity and inclusion, the amplification of the good work that the company already does or, through new innovative ways of partnering and operating that deliver measurable impact as well as real benefits across the stakeholder community. This approach is complimentary to ESG investment practices but crucially seeks to grow the pie for all stakeholders without leaving any one group behind. In fact, Conscious Social Pragmatism can be intrinsic and deliver benefits at the core of BAU. In 'Grow The Pie', Alex Edmans notes, 'millennials want to be proud of their employer, to feel that their company's values match their own, and that the work they do is worthwhile'. In a Deloitte survey, only 27% of millennials responded that they intended to stay with their current employer for five years, but 88% said that they would do so if they 'were satisfied with the company's sense of purpose'.
Conscious Social Pragmatism reduces risk and resistance and allows the business case to evolve and become proven evidentially over time.
As such we have developed our Social Value Transformation Pathway (SVTP) with a flexible top-down, bottom-up approach to managing organisational change. This phased approach can be throttled to manage the pace of adoption and can prioritise the most impactful changes that are relevant for a particular organisation.
What is critical is that change is not introduced for vanity alone but is aligned to deliver social and environmental benefits for all of the organisation’s stakeholders because it is through this alignment that the company will thrive commercially over the longer term.
Where we start is helping your company to define a purpose that is aligned with all of your stakeholders and your fields of operation. From this we develop a route map that factors in all of your diverse business needs and market ambitions. The next phase is a CSP Master Plan that maps out the what, how and why. The speed at which we help you to implement the transformation will depend on many factors - not least your commercial and competitive imperatives which are considered from the outset. This is not a 100 day project, or a sprint. We will recommend a transitionary process that will serve your business for the long term with clear proof-points and measurement within the game plan.
You can find out more about Good Karma Media and our approach to social business transformation on our website.
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