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The struggle to follow through on your corporate purpose

Posted by: Jo Seagrave / 16 January 2019

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Digitalist Magazine by Alexandra van der Ploeg, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, SAP

15th January 2019

The world’s population today has the most knowledge available to help us achieve a world of equality, where people treat others as they expect to be treated. All businesses, big or small, want to make money but they also want to share their successes and help others to achieve diversity and inclusion. But sometimes, it can be hard to find the right way to help make a difference because at the end of the day, you’ve got to get your work done to keep your customers, employees, and stakeholders happy.

What if there was a simple way for you to make an impact on society without taking away resources from your daily business? Social enterprises have become mature and well-established businesses, providing reliable and high-quality services through regular procurement processes to businesses big and small, helping them to meet their business targets. Social enterprises are businesses that trade to intentionally tackle social problems, improve communities, provide people access to employment and training, or help the environment. Using the power of the marketplace to solve the most pressing societal problems, social enterprises are commercially viable businesses existing to benefit the public and the community, rather than shareholders and owners.

Social entrepreneurs play an important role in combatting inequality – they reduce poverty, build food systems, celebrate diversity, promote Indigenous culture, meet health needs, create employment opportunities for those with disadvantages, deliver community owned energy and address environmental issues and social exclusion. Profit models vary between organizations.

If every business in the world engaged with just one social enterprise in its procurement process, the overall effect on the world could be enormous. The Social Enterprise World Forum is working to encourage corporations to engage with social enterprises and to help people to understand more, they’re providing a free online course, How Social Enterprises Enhance Corporate Supply Chains. The course features representatives from both big business, including Johnson & Johnson and PwC, as well as social enterprises who work with big business. Attendees can hear from both sides and see what experiences have been gained and how they can become involved.

I truly believe that this is the future – working together to meet our business goals and incorporating diverse suppliers can have an incredible impact on our world!