publication date: Jun 6, 2011
author/source: James Temple
I'm often asked about how a business defines "value." To
most, it's a loaded term that typically relates to how businesses steward the meaningful
relationships that will ultimately help make money.
However, for businesses that truly embrace the triple bottom
line (social, environmental and economic) mentality, the term "value" has begun
to transform into a new approach that's focused on shared experiences.
Too often, businesses fail to recognize the breadth and
depth of knowledge and experience held by their not-for-profit counterparts. Employees
within the voluntary sector often do twice the work of a business employee, with
fewer resources and limited remuneration.
Yet the perception is that not-for-profits are at best
beneficiaries of support and are somehow less business savvy, reinforcing a
vicious stigma of declining value.
That's why I'm a big advocate for a shared-language approach
to tackling this issue. We need to
re-think popular perspectives about "value" by creating a conversation about
how good social, environmental and economic concerns can be built into
This is a fundamental pillar that underlines how businesses
can be good corporate citizens, and keeps us focused on applying good social
values within day-to-day business. We
must empower not-for-profit partners in ways that put the focus on learning
from their inspiring practices (not vice-versa).
What businesses can
Here are some of what I'll call the "not-for-profit
empowerment principles for business." As you'll see, businesses have a lot of
wisdom to glean.
1. People who take the time to volunteer in
their communities are also high performers in their workplaces.
In a recent article in Maclean's
outlined a study
that found employees who volunteer are three times less likely to leave the company. That demonstrates a strong correlation
between community involvement and employee retention. There's also a clear connection between high
performers and good social values.
That's what I call a not-for-profit competitive advantage.
2. Values go beyond social nuances - embedding
good not-for-profit behaviours should be a priority.
We've all presented at a lunch-and-learn and discussed ways
not-for-profit organizations share important social values with companies. We've all heard about those good behaviours
that every business wants their employees to embody. But is there a disconnect?
Of course there is (otherwise we wouldn't be talking about
it so much)! We must re-frame how we
approach our work and help businesses embed good not-for-profit business
processes such as collaboration and skills agility with social purpose to help
them drive triple-bottom-line growth.
we've taken a lot of these principles to heart. You can check out our Volunteer Continuum
to see how
we're integrating not-for-profit and business principles with a focus on
learning better value(s) from those who know it best: our community partners.
James Temple is the
director of corporate responsibility for PricewaterhouseCoopers
Canada and director of the PricewaterhouseCoopers
Canada Foundation. He oversees a team responsible for integrating good
social, environmental and economic values into PwC's decision-making processes.
James is a featured
presenter at international conferences, speaking on the value of developing
strong corporate-community partnerships.
He co-chairs the Association of
Corporate Grantmakers and sits on the board of directors for the Ontario Association of Food Banks.
Contact him at 416-815-5224 or by email , or visit http://www.pwc.com/ca/corporateresponsibility.