The reasons for this approach are twofold:
- Doing so leverages the company’s expertise, raising the probability of success in addressing a social issue.
- By choosing issues that could stand in the way of business success in the future, such as talent shortages for a service company or water scarcity for a food and beverage company, the company’s engagement not only provides value for society, but also serves the long-term interests of the firm, providing an additional incentive for adopting a solutions-based mindset.
- The relevancy of the issue to your business. This includes: evidence that the issue will affect the company, now or in the future; the legitimacy of the company as a leader on addressing the issue; the potential for new business opportunities; the resonance of the issue with the company’s values and core competencies; and the ability of the company to take action on the issue within a reasonable timeframe.
- Society’s expectation that the company engage. This includes: stakeholders’ perception of the severity of the issue; the ability of the company to make a difference; and the willingness of stakeholders to collaborate with the company on solutions.
Taking a strategic approach when scoping the issues for corporate engagement, using tools such as the “issue ripeness” map, creates a solid foundation for long-term societal impact and provides a clear-eyed appraisal of a company’s ability to succeed.
This blog post was first published in the Entrepreneur's Foundation's August newsletter.