Updated: Feb 28, 2019
Mark Benioff, the CEO of SalesForce.com, believes that 1% could change the world. That’s a small number, nearly insignificant, but if every company dedicated just 1% of its revenues and time to the community around it, the difference would be monumental.
His idea is part of the movement in support of compassionate capitalism. A business is not an island; it’s the product of the community it was formed in, and its enduring success is dependent on that same community. This idea is at odds with the way many companies do business. It’s accepted that many corporations are more concerned with profits than with the community or environment surrounding it. The CEOs get million dollar paychecks while the families living a half mile from their offices struggle to put food on the table and the nearby lake is too polluted for children to swim in. Logging companies harvest acres of trees without considering the toll on the area’s ecosystem. The list could go on forever; there’s a long precedent of profits first, people second. That has to change, and it has to happen now.
One percent can add up quickly. For example, 1% of a million dollars is ten-thousand dollars. That’s enough to fix up a local park, keep a food pantry stocked for months, or divide between a few local charities. Imagine if the major corporations, with revenue in the billions, followed the same principle. This practice doesn’t just take the cooperation of a few huge corporations; it takes small businesses, too.
If enough small businesses joined together, donating a fraction of their revenue and some of their time, they could help prevent children from going hungry by sponsoring community gardens. They could clean up their neighborhoods and make their towns and cities a cleaner, safer place to live, or support a local animal shelter, or host workshops to teach career skills to local students or unemployed community members. They sound like such small things, but when all of these small things add up, they become an unstoppable movement of compassion and gratitude.
Compassionate capitalism has far reaching benefits. It can help to bring a community together. It can inspire other businesses and individuals to make their own pledge to give back, creating a spirit of cooperation that can make an immeasurable impact. There are also tangible benefits for businesses, such as an improved business profile as members of the community associate the business with its involvement.
You may be just one person, or the leader of a small business. In the face of all of the problems facing our cities, it’s easy to buy into the notion that you can’t make a real difference. Truth is, you can. Make a commitment to give back, and challenge others to do the same. Even a small percentage can have a lasting positive effect on your surrounding area.
What if you started waking up each morning and asking yourself how you could make the biggest positive difference in your business, in your neighborhood, in your community, in your city and in your state?
And then you did it.