It’s not easy being a business owner these days.
Besides the taxes and regulations that confound any budding entrepreneur, there’s also brooding sense of resentment that businesses only care about the bottom line. In fact, during this election season, attacking corporate America has become a bipartisan endeavor.
And now according to a recent worldwide study conducted by the Legatum Institute:
“There is an almost universal belief that the world’s biggest businesses have cheated and polluted their way to success – with barely ten percent of respondents in all seven countries surveyed thinking big businesses are clean.”
It isn’t all bad news however:
“Although doctors, teachers and charity workers may be more admired than business leaders in popularity surveys there is a widespread recognition that entrepreneurs and business leaders are just as important to society.”
This is encouraging, but there’s still work to be done to improve capitalism’s standing in our country and around the world. For starter’s, it’s important to remind the public that small businesses have created nearly two million jobs – this number from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Additionally, capitalism and the free market system have been the largest contributors to raising people out of poverty. No government welfare program can make that claim. Thanks to the free enterprise system, the quality of life has improved for much of the world.
Contrast this to the plight of countries and nations that have embraced socialism and communism. But there are other ways to rehabilitate capitalism’s tarnished credentials. One way companies are doing this is by choosing to become more socially conscious and vocal in supporting a mission or a cause.
For example, REI, a popular outdoor apparel store, recently made news when they announced that they would plan to close their stores on Black Friday, including their online store! A stream of goodwill poured in…not to mention favorable free earned media for their store. This approach is not new of course.
The holiday classic, “A Miracle on 34th Street,” features a story line of Macy’s Santa Clause referring parents to their competitor if the store did not carry the correct children’s toy.
Whether or not what REI is doing is an elaborate ploy (likely not) misses the point. This is effective because it reminds the public that there is more to businesses than simply making money. Businesses exist to make a profit, but also to provide a good or service for others.
Next- The way Irene B. Rosenfeld, CEO of KRAFT sees it