Community Engagement for Businesses: 3 Major Components

By Dora Lutz, Founder & President, 3 Hawks Consulting

The conversation is shifting and businesses are being held to a higher standard for community engagement than ever before. It’s easy to see in news publications, consumer reactions to businesses that don’t act in a responsible manner, and even our legal systems as CEOs are imprisoned for making decisions that are not in the community’s best interest.

If you need more convincing, consider this quote from the judge in the Peanut Corporation of America case:

“These acts were driven simply by the desire to profit and to protect profits notwithstanding the known risks” from salmonella. “This is commonly and accurately referred to as greed. Note that the punishment isn’t stated as ignoring regulation or killing people – just greed.”

The Concept of Shared Value

The concept of Shared Value states that it is possible for businesses to solve a compelling social issue while remaining profitable, and that by leveraging the scope of business, we can accelerate the speed with which we solve these issues. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Shared Value Institute Affiliate training with a global community of leaders that see the value in this approach.

My biggest Aha! moment was the realization of the continuum of community engagement from Philanthropy, to Social Responsibility to Shared Value, and that a well done, strategic plan engages all three of these areas to make a significant impact in the community.

Fineline prides itself on its commitment to community, and I think looking at the varied approaches as part of a portfolio of strategic plans helps justify the investment that it makes to the community.

1. Philanthropy

Because we believe it is the right thing to do, Fineline focuses on providing resources to nonprofits through in-kind donations and board-membership positions.

2. Corporate Social Responsibility

As a certified Green Power and EcoSmart partner, and part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Fineline continues to be a responsible steward of the environment. We also work with our clients to ensure marketing materials are effective while limiting our carbon footprint whenever possible.

3. Shared Value

Finally, we know that our business is only as healthy as the community we operate in. The primary way we ensure the long-term health of our community is by helping Minority Businesses with the resources and support they need for continued growth. Our partnerships with the MSDC and other minority nonprofits provide assistance that also supports our business.

Interested in how you can think strategically about your community engagement strategies? Look out for myself and Fineline to host an event in early 2016, where I’ll be sharing my takeaways and best practices as one of 5 certified consultants in the US related to Shared Value.

Click here to RSVP to be notified!


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