This past Monday, The Hitachi Foundation held their third annual Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs awards ceremony. While I was sad to miss the event, I’m excited to cover the resulting inspiration. These awards honored five innovative entrepreneurs whose businesses align company profits with company cause. The honorees are creative and resourceful—taking their communities’ seemingly intractable problems and offering tangible solutions.
The video is a must-watch. While it’s eight minutes long, it’s definitely worth it. If you’re into inspiring problem solving—especially in the corporate social responsibility world—watch it now.
When explaining that the narrative of business and society operating in silos is a common one, Barbara Dyer, the President and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation, says these young leaders provide a new paradigm:
“American capitalism is a story of ongoing tension between two seemingly contradictory ideas: business as the pursuit of profit and business as a means to secure a better society. These entrepreneurs show us that we need not make a choice between purpose and profit, and that business innovation in the social realm is abundant.”
This is true. Companies with cause embedded in their mission perform better in a number of ways—ROI, employee engagement, consumer trust—than their counterparts that look to profit for profit’s sake. Plus, consumers and employees embrace purposeful companies. Edelman’s goodpurpose study shows that consumers are increasingly opting for cause-affiliated brands.
Shane Gring was one of the Yoshiyama awardees. His Denver-based company, Bould (clever name), gives professionals interested in learning how to build green buildings the opportunity to work on green Habitat for Humanity builds. He notes his decision to tie cause with his brand was essential, because people are ready for purposeful companies. “People are primed for change. We’ve gotta stop divorcing purpose with profit.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Congratulations to the awardees, their winning ideas, and the communities they’re affecting.
Follow the Yoshiyama Program on Twitter at @YoshiProgram.