How companies can pay their success forward

You don’t have to have the most profitable business to bear some responsibility for the world beyond the boardroom

Innovation in consumer electronics is not the only reason tech companies are in the spotlight. They are also being investigated for not paying their fair share in taxes. Even now, the EU is pushing Ireland to collect over $14 billion from Apple in back taxes they have been determined to be owed retroactively. EU regulators are belatedly making a meal of the Double Irish with Dutch Sandwich. And it is causing more than a few upset stomachs in that region.

But it seems somewhat harsh to suggest that Apple is not doing its part as the world’s most profitable company. Apple deserves credit for raising the standards of work in places like China and reducing dependency on conflict minerals. They have arguably done more in these areas than did other companies when they were in the lead position.

You don’t have to have the most profitable business to bear some responsibility for the world beyond the boardroom. Giving back is a human responsibility from the least to the greatest. So while it is easy to point the finger at large corporations, we need to all take stock of the things that we can do. Here are a few ways normal sized companies can pay their success forward by giving back:

Treat employees better

If you are in the U.S., your employees have to be treated well according to the standard of living in the U.S. To get some sense of scope, compare the compensation and perks of your employees to the CEO. The disparity is a witness to the fact that you can probably do better by your employees.

You may not be able to afford a college fund for everybody, but you can likely afford to provide them with better drinking water at the office. The office water cooler is one of the many little opportunities for you to show appreciation for those who sweat the details in your company.

Having a source of always cool, always refreshing, always bottle-less water can make a big difference through the course of the day. And when good water is available, it reduces the dependency on unhealthy, sugary drinks. Add healthy snacks to the perk list, and you are not just treating your employees better, you are getting a better workforce in return.

Help another company succeed

Ace Hardware acquired a majority stake in The Grommet. That is just one example of how one business found a way to further their interests by helping another business further theirs. Strategic partnerships do not always have to be about the bottom line. Sometimes it can be about helping someone else who is on their way up.

It need not be a competitor. If you are a restaurant, you can source your ingredients locally. If you are a seller of art, you can feature local artists and photographers. You can recruit talents from local high schools and colleges. Giving back comes in many forms. One of the most direct and meaningful forms is taking time and resources to help other entrepreneurs find success.

Go Green

Sure, you’ve figured out how to make money and lead the industry. But can you do it while using 100% renewable energy? That is going to bite into the bottom line just a bit. But it is worth it in the end. Manufacturing is a lot easier when you don’t have to worry about air quality. The environment is something that we all use and need. Your use of it affects more than your customers.

Everyone receives something from the system. And everyone has something to give back to the system. It might be that you treat your employees better, or that you help another company, or that you make a positive environmental impact. These are just a few of the things you can do to give back.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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