Thank you for the opportunity to share both realistic and hopeful methods for how even small businesses can be a force for good.
My company, Work Wisdom, headquartered in LNC PA, helps businesses use evidence-based mindsets, behaviors, communication, and culture to have an even greater positive impact on the world.
We believe that the purpose of a company is to benefit ALL stakeholders….NOT JUST SHAREHOLDERS. We want to be of benefit to our customers, our employees, our suppliers, our communities, and even the environment. Because of the unique nature of our practice, rooted in positive organizational behavior and communitarian beliefs, we embrace certain tenets which are also essential within stakeholder capitalism.
For example, prominent values that undergird organizational behavior are trust, transparency, equity, and compassion. These values are essential for stakeholder capitalism, but not necessarily for shareholder capitalism.
As a company founded to benefit all stakeholders, we behave in ways that may differ from a company created primarily to benefit shareholders. I want to tell you about a few clear Stakeholder Capitalist practices in our business that almost any small business could adopt.
One way we embrace transparency is to publish our guiding principles (which we call the WW Manifesto) on the website so all of our stakeholders truly understand us and can hold us to be congruent, too.
Another practice, which you can read about in our manifesto, is clear pay equity and transparency for employees.
In caring for our community, each year we adopt a social mission partner, to which we deliver pro bono services to help them grow as more effective world changers. This year, it is Lancaster Farm Sanctuary, which is beautifully fighting for the rights of animals, for the environment and for social justice.
Also, as Stakeholder Capitalists, we think differently about our supply chain. We place an emphasis on both equitable selection of vendors and distribution of our products. We prioritize hiring as many businesses led by underrepresented groups as possible. Our published WW Equity Statement explains that we choose not to work with clients who actively discriminate.
We offer generous family leave, we invest heavily in the intellectual capital of our team, we design our positions to be as meaningful as possible and we work hard to play to the strengths of each employee.
We also focus on our environmental impact. For example, our newest offering, WW Design, reshapes a company’s built environment to cultivate their aspired organizational culture. In developing that offering, we felt it was imperative that our team gain expertise in green building practices and obtain LEED certification to ensure that we were caring for the planet as well as the people in those organizations.
All of these small and large behaviors are designed to build trust. Trust with our employees, with our clients, with our suppliers, and with our communities. According to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in all three sectors (nonprofit, civic, business) in America had hit an all time low - and this was BEFORE the pandemic. HOWEVER, trust in business was the highest among the three sectors and was making some positive strides. Even before the Business Roundtable’s shift in 2019, there has been growing trust in Stakeholder Capitalist businesses. I am encouraged by the launch of this congressional caucus and your aspiration to leverage the movement toward trustworthy businesses in America.
Obviously, there is the strong business case for trust, which builds brand loyalty, repeat business and increased profit. However, I want to underscore that Stakeholder Capitalism is good for more than just increasing profits. Businesses for good create healthy, flourishing individuals and cultures where creativity, engagement, and collaboration enhance both profitability and joy. We can learn life-giving, constructive practices inside our work environments which subsequently even establish more positive norms in our personal, volunteer and civic lives.
Americans DESERVE TO FLOURISH. We deserve to connect with the meaningful, compassionate, trusting bonds that businesses can provide. Congressional support of conscious, compassionate, stakeholder capitalism is a powerful step toward establishing faith in the future of our country.