Bill Gates spoke at Davos this week with a call-to-action for companies to embrace “creative capitalism,” pushing companies to focus on building products and services for the poor. "Such a system would have a twin mission: making profits and also improving lives for those who don't fully benefit from market forces," Gates explained.
At Cone, we refer to this dual-purpose as “Socially Aligned Business Initiatives(sm),” strategies that leverage an organization’s operations and scale to drive long-term social change, while providing the greatest opportunities to grow and reinforce the business.
Gates urges that the key to successful creative capitalism is for businesses to “dedicate their top people to poor issues.” To go above and beyond traditional philanthropy, it is essential that the effort is cross-functional and taps not only corporate giving, but also human resources, marketing, product development and other areas. The leaders in the space—Nike, GE and Home Depot, to name a few—realize the benefits they can derive from their efforts: enhanced reputation and brand equity, stronger relationships with NGOs and influentials, increased sales, market development and product innovation.