We're fortunate to live in an age where many organizations aren't just looking to make a profit — they're looking to make a difference.
We spend the majority of our waking hours working. Who we work for and how organizations conduct themselves makes a significant difference in the world we live in and your team's morale.
Exercising your power over social change doesn't just come with moral benefits — instead, it can directly influence your bottom line. According to the Deloitte Global Millennial and Gen Z Survey, three out of five people believe that positive social change needs to come from the top-down, starting with those in a position of power (like leadership).
In addition, research shows that 78% of people in the workforce want to work for companies that address social justice issues, while 63% are looking for businesses to spearhead social relations and environmental change.
Translation: If you want to attract more supporters and top talent in your target demographic, you'll need to take a hard look at how your organization is looking to change the world for the better.
What is social change, exactly?
Before diving into how to enact social change at your organization, it's important to first take a step back and have a clear understanding of what social change actually is.
Sociologists define social change as the process of changing human interactions to transform long-held behaviors and social institutions. In short, social change is the ability to change the status quo, ensuring that every human being has equal rights and access.
In order for a social movement to occur, groups of people need funding, attention from the media, and so on. In other words, they need power and resources — which is why organizational leaders are in a prime position to help spark different types of social change with their employees.
How can organizations large and small influence social change?
Organizations of all sizes can help influence environmental, societal, and cultural changes. Below, we share several ideas to contribute to social change at work.
1. Take a good look at your values 💓
The first step in having a part in social change is redefining what you, as an organization, stand for.
At Givebutter, our employee handbook states that diversity is an asset that contributes to our core value of collaboration. Having this value in place not only informs internal policies but is also a north star for our blog and customer success stories. Encouraging and celebrating diversity and inclusion in our published content is one way we contribute to societal change.
Take a look at your team values — do they speak to productivity, profitability, or loyalty to work? While these values can help you grow, there might be an opportunity to redefine them to reflect the change you want to see in the world.
Leverage your team's collective genius to update your values. Organize a town hall where employees are encouraged to suggest values that they feel improve human rights and encompass social change.
2. Look at the values of your partners 💪
Look at your suppliers, vendors, and software platforms — are any companies you partner with misaligned with your values? If so, you may want to consider partnering with a different vendor.
Finding partners and vendors you trust can be difficult. In the future, try adding “company values” to your research when vetting each vendor.
At Givebutter, we intentionally grow our partnership program with diversity as a top priority, taking into account each partner's mission, vision, and values. Today, our Verified Partners program consists of more than 60 Givebutter partners, including technology integrations, nonprofit consultants, copywriters, graphic designers, and more. We are proud to be associated with all of them and excited for the difference each of them is making in the world.
3. Prioritize the mental health of your employees 💆
There are many simple ways to encourage your team to prioritize mental health. These changes start from the top. For example, if your employees see their leaders taking time off they'll feel more comfortable doing so themselves.
A great place to start is your vacation and time off policy. Work with your human resources department to ensure your policies are clear and encourage your employees to use their time off. Other ideas to consider:
- Would your team benefit from working from home part-time?
- Can you add mental health days to your vacation policy?
- When people are taking time off work, are they actually taking time off work, or are they expected to check emails?
4. Modernize your health care benefits 💊
Health care benefits are in dire need of modernization. This does not mean there aren’t many ways to support the physical and mental health of your employees. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Offer generous parental leave that includes both the primary and secondary care providers at your organization.
- Offer a monthly stipend to be used for a gym membership to keep employees healthy.
- Investigate whether you could provide (or reimburse for) eldercare and childcare at work.
- See if you can offer family planning services, such as IVF treatments, as reimbursed healthcare costs.
5. Create commentary around social issues 🙋
Organizations have begun to realize that taking an active role in civic engagement is part of their duty, but that doesn't just happen on social media. Take time to get to know your employees — their backgrounds, role models, moments of growth, and areas of opportunity. If your employees are interested in learning more about certain social issues, consider bringing in activists to give a lunch-and-learn on the topic. Or, invite your employees to speak directly to their colleagues; personal stories of activism can bring your team closer together and educate them.
6. Make official partnerships with nonprofit organizations 🙌
As part of your organizational model, give back to nonprofits or social organizations who are doing the on-the-ground-work you wish to see in the world.
Monetary donations are a great way for the organization to give back. Consider the following ideas to give back in a hands-on way:
- Offer paid leave for employee volunteer hours.
- Partner with a nonprofit organization to launch a cause marketing campaign.
- Allow employees to automatically donate a percentage of earnings to charity through a workplace giving program.
Looking for a worthy cause to support? Here are some of our favorite charitable causes, like a 160-mile kayak trip to support the Down Syndrome community in New York.
Influence social change to attract top talent and customers
Influencing social change is not only good for society but can also help you attract (and retain) top talent and customers.
Organizations of all sizes can do their part to influence positive social change. You don't have to address climate change overnight to make a difference. Start by revamping your mission and values, then take a hard look at your employee benefits packages, vendors within your supply chain, how you prioritize mental health, and how you discuss social issues.
Finally, give a percentage of your profits back to society through fundraising campaigns, paid volunteer days, and workplace giving programs. Givebutter offers a completely free fundraising platform advancing technological change to help you give back to your community. Start your free campaign today.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.