Blog - How leading organizations drive growth with impact strategy and messaging | Nuwave Talent

How leading organizations drive growth with impact strategy and messaging

For an increasing number of organizations, social and environmental impact efforts have graduated from side projects to integral components of wider strategy and messaging.  From future-proofing against climate risks to building entire offerings or brands around sustainability, operating more intentionally can take different forms. Organizations who actively and strategically consider, plan, and communicate their societal and environmental impacts, both positive and negative, set the stage for maximizing sustained growth. This approach can help build trust and loyalty with customers, stakeholders, and shareholders.

Strategies for Positive Impact

While social organizations like not-for-profits are expected to keep impact front and center, it is not yet considered a “must have” for businesses. However, more businesses are seeing the benefits of having a clear impact strategy. Organizations that excel in ESG have 3-19% higher valuations than the median and ESG-related consumer products had 18% more growth than expected in a recent Nielsen and McKinsey Study. So, how do organizations successfully incorporate impact? They make it a meaningful part of organizational strategy for operations, product, and/or talent.

What Is An Impact Strategy?

The phrase “impact strategy” is used in various ways across industries such as investing and social enterprises. In this article, we’ll summarize it as a strategy, or set of strategies, that defines your organization’s relationship and long term approach to mitigating or improving social or environmental impacts. Ideally, a social impact strategy has a clear goal and action items that relate to your organization’s values or offerings.

 Online marketplace Etsy is a great example of a business putting their impact strategy into action. They’ve incorporated their mission “Keep commerce human” into several strategies to benefit their customers, aspiring entrepreneurs, and the planet. These strategies are in turn woven into their business operations, giving, and marketing.

Saving Resources and Money in Operations

Optimizing operations to save environmental resources is perhaps one of the clearest paths  to reducing negative impacts while often increasing profitability.  By investing in ways to curb resource use, businesses can save money in the long run.  Lagunitas Brewing for example saved nearly $1 million annually on utilities thanks to more efficient wastewater treatment technology and electricity generation from their methane byproducts.

Even if an organization does not have a massive production facility to optimize, there’s still savings to be found in operations. The LEED Operation and Maintenance (O+M) certification lays out guidelines for reducing in-office waste, incorporating composting, and more. Over time, these savings will accumulate, especially if they are integrated intentionally into wider plans for operations.

Designing Products and Services  for Sustainability

Businesses can really take their impact strategy to the next level by designing services and products for sustainability. In this scenario, the status quo isn’t optimized, instead, impact is made integral to the offering.

Clothing and lifestyle brand For Days has taken this approach. All of their products are fully recyclable and customers receive store credit if they return their For Days items to the company. This take back policy helps For Days ensure that more of their products get resold, recycled, or repurposed. It also incentivizes For Days customers to keep shopping the brand.  Outdoor brands Cotopaxi and Patagonia have started similar programs. Not only does this lighten their footprint, it helps them capture part of the resale market for their products.

As more people demand sustainable and circular products, brands have the opportunity to rethink and redesign their offerings. It may be a challenge, but it’s arguably also an opportunity for companies to truly zero-in on what jobs they do for their customers and how to do it more sustainably.

Retaining Talent Through an Inclusive and Thriving Company Culture  Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership .

Finally, it’s important to remember that impact includes what happens between the people working in an organization. Beyond reducing waste or designing better products, creating an internal culture that cultivates belonging and safety is a vital part of ESG. 

The need for inclusion and mental health support is gaining recognition in the work world. 44% of workers interviewed by Gallup said they experienced “a lot of stress” on their previous workday and other research shows that workplace stressors like microaggressions still go woefully underreported. 

In order to better support talent, organizations are investing in efforts to support psychological safety and diversity, equity, and inclusion. This can include fostering a growth environment (rather than a punitive one) and making sure employees know their input matters. Businesses that successfully implement an inclusive culture often see great benefits–employees are 47% more likely to stay with an inclusive organization.

At NuWave, we’ve seen clients do this by creating their own programs and by hiring outside specialists to assist them. In either scenario, organizational commitment to doing DEI right made all the difference. It’s not enough to hire to meet a quota or run HR seminars to avoid lawsuits. 

Truly inclusive companies have created environments where talent feels like they can stay and grow. In the long run, creating a strategy to increase employee diversity and retention helps organizations reduce turnover costs and stay innovative.

Going Farther with The Right Messaging

Of course, any impact strategy efforts can, and probably should, be amplified with the right messaging. It goes without saying that when impact becomes part of a company’s strategy, it should become a part of its brand as well. Marketing and brand collateral are a vehicle to share organizational values, build brand awareness and loyalty with customers.

 A recent McKinsey study on brand strength found that top 40 brands outperform their competitors by 96%. And while not every organization can be a top brand, making an effort to illustrate impact in messaging efforts is still worth the effort.

Pact Apparel, an organic cotton clothing company, teamed up with Green Story, a sustainability measurement and messaging platform, to better communicate the value they bring to eco-conscious customers. By measuring their impact and then weaving it throughout marketing materials in the customer journey, Pact grew their revenue four times.

Similarly, capable marketing and creative professionals should be able to craft a brand story that illustrates impact to activate the customer experience.  Ideally, they should be enthusiastic about the brand’s particular take on impact or be eager to learn.

To uncover this passion, part of our talent vetting process [link to NuWave employer section] at NuWave includes interviewing potential hires about their passions outside of work. What do they care about and want to spend more time championing? A good creative hire comes with both technical skills and genuine interest in their work.

In short, impact can help drive organizational growth when it is implemented with care. Strategy and messaging need to be genuine and well-coordinated and leaders should be passionate about bringing organizational values to life. If done well, customers are sure to respond.

By clicking on the button on the side, you accept our privacy policy