During the Coronavirus emergency, even companies have rolled up their sleeves and tried to provide help in a number of ways. Some firms have converted their production to manufacture face masks, medical gloves, sanitisers, and respiratory ventilators. By practising Corporate Social Responsibility, companies can ‘do well by doing good’. They can earn profits and contribute to make the world a better place, at the same time. In other words, marketers can create Shared Value and simultaneously address crucial environmental and social issues.
In the past, we have extensively discussed the efforts of companies to act towards achieving collective wellbeing. Especially in this particular moment, many of their choices prove extremely responsible. Profit and non-profit organisations, corporations, cultural institutions, foundations, and ONG must commit to find effective strategies which can generate positive value. The 2030 Agenda, set by the UN Assembly, outlines 17 goals to eradicate poverty and to achieve sustainable development.
The Agenda provides for a shared global vision towards a better future. The SDG 11 is one of these goals. It focuses on “strengthen[ing] efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage”.
As always, and even in the digital age, culture is the cradle of civilisation, playing a leading role in negotiating and promoting developmental strategies.Italy is ranked number fourteen in the world for its achievements in sustainability and is the second-best country where to organise Benefit Corporations, lying just behind the United States.
But what is a Benefit Corporation? It is a company with profit and non-profit aims going hand in hand. In other words, a Benefit Corporation aims at increasing its profits and at having a positive impact on the environment and the society, at the same time. Business, culture, and technology are part of the same strategic management in which new technologies are used to increase inclusion, accessibility, and participation. Benefit corporations pursue two mail objectives: to ensure sustainability, social innovation, and impact, on the one hand, and to adopt “new governance” approaches, on the other.
The introduction of the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) Criteria, and the shift to mandatory reports have proved fundamental to companies. These documents, once simply considered nice-to-have sheets, are now essential to achieve both internal and external goals. All profit organisations should adapt their programmes to sustainability guidelines.
The incorporation of ESG Criteria can potentially increase long-term competitiveness. These Criteria inflate companies’ productivity and increase their engagement with stakeholders, together with improving the reputation of businesses and, consequently, allowing them to expand into new markets. By estimating the impact of their activities, companies can account for their social, environmental, and governance performances, tangibly contributing to create of a more socially cohesive society. This is a challenge we should all take on: there is no more time for procrastination. It is time to act, now.