8 Ways Your Business Can (and Should) Stand for What You Believe In

Customers and employees expect companies to be socially engaged. We asked eight entrepreneurs how to do that authentically.
8 Ways Your Business Can (and Should) Stand for What You Believe In
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This story appears in the October 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

We asked eight of the entrepreneurs featured on our 100 Powerful Women list: Customers and employees expect companies to be socially engaged. What's your advice for other leaders as they figure out what that means for them? 

 

“Be authentic. Do not create a campaign to woo new customers or to placate current customers. Do it with pure intentions, and make sure your entire organization is clear on the stand you are taking. Ben & Jerry’s has been doing it right for a very long time, before it was trending. Do a case study on their culture to see how they have been able to successfully navigate this terrain without losing any of their customer base.” — Mahisha Dellinger, Founder and CEO of Curls, a natural hair care brand

Related: Here's How Conscious Capitalism Will Bring You Better Workers


“As a Black-, Asian-, and queer-founded business, diversity, inclusivity, and equality are deeply rooted in our DNA. But it’s clear that an organization needs to be doing and standing up for more. We brainstormed many different ideas that all had a constant theme: giving back by using our human connection. Pipcorn Grants is a new program to support Black- and minority-founded brands through direct mentorship with the Pipcorn team. It’s a program for us all to make a direct difference.” — Teresa Tsou, Cofounder (left), with Jen Martin, cofounder, of Pipsnacks, a snack food brand


“Company leaders may want to consider finding ways to engage themselves and their workforce so they can problem-solve directly within the community. For example, if a company has a frustration point for the community, why not bring that community in to work with company employees to problem-solve? The ideas that arise may blow your mind. Social engagement may be the thing that saves your company’s life!” — Ari Horie, Founder and CEO of Women’s Startup Lab, a female-focused accelerator

Related: If You Want Customers to Be Passionate About Your Brand, Follow These 10 Commandments


“Remember why you started your company in the first place. In my case, founding Ava was based on the conviction that women deserve better knowledge about their bodies. This larger social good is just as important to us as our bottom line, and, in fact, it is inseparable from it. Social engagement isn’t just an add-on. The most powerful way companies can be socially engaged is to organize themselves such that serving their customers advances their vision for social improvement in a self-reinforcing circle.”  Lea von Bidder, Cofounder and CEO of Ava, a digital reproductive-health company


“I come from the Roald Dahl school of entrepreneurship — a place of wonder and action and opportunity and bold, nearly punk rock kindness. Maybe that’s why I believe that building a company is building a community. If you want to sell something, it better be good on all fronts. If you want top talent, it’s not money people want; it’s meaning. We need to inspire the next generation if we are to keep up with the world. Show that entrepreneurship is about imagination and community — not greed and profit.” — Jeni Britton Bauer, Founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, an artisan ice cream company

Related: 4 Ways to Engage Your Customers in Social Good -- And Why It Matters


“At Fast, we’ve recognized that cultivating a diverse company goes beyond just hiring. Leaders should create a culture where employees feel empowered to bring their whole selves to work. Too often when companies create diversity groups or initiatives, those diverse voices are required to do the actual work. It is great to invest in these initiatives, but it should be a core part of the company, and all employees should feel they have a role to play, rather than creating a one-off project to check off the list.” — Allison Barr Allen, Cofounder and COO of Fast, a checkout and login platform


“If these times have taught us anything, they have certainly shown us the importance of remaining connected to our community, patients, and teams. We have encouraged conversations about the pandemic and expressed our support for protestors — but we have a long history of this. My partners and I, most of whom are people of color, have been extremely active in fighting for social justice and equity in our industry. For us this conversation does not end. It must be ongoing until change happens. We address the issues, injustices, and struggles head-on. It’s a necessary dialog.” — Chanda Macias, CEO of Ilera Holistic Healthcare, a medical marijuana company and dispensary

Related: 7 Ways to Make Your Business More Socially Conscious


“Talk as a team about your company’s values and how they intersect with present-day issues and the macro environment. For us at Material, we zeroed in on access to fresh and healthy food, sustainability in the kitchen, and immigration, something personally important to me as the daughter of an immigrant father. Reach out to organizations that are tackling these issues. Find out if there’s anything that can be done together. It should be more than just a campaign — it should be something you would do even if customers and others didn’t know about it.” — Eunice Byun, Cofounder and CEO of Material Kitchen, a kitchen-tools startup

Check out more stories from our October/November issue's list of 100 Powerful Women.

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