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In recent years, consumers, employees, community organizations, and community members are all taking a closer look at the brands and businesses they support, shop from and work for.  

But what are they looking for? It’s simple. 

People don’t want to engage with and work for any business; they want businesses that are doing something to give back and support the same things they do. 

With Environmental, Social and Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility becoming increasingly important for Canadian consumers, what we expect from businesses has shifted from what we used to know. 

At Hope Factory, that shift in a business’s responsibility for “good” is a catalyst for what we like to call Business with a Conscience. 

In 2023, it’s no longer a question of if businesses are engaging in Business with a Conscience. 

It’s a question of how, and what they’re going to do to show it. 

The Business with a Conscience Equation

In the next section, we’ll explain Business with a Conscience in detail… but we need to understand the parts it’s made of first. 

Business with a Conscience = ESG + CSR + more 

A “Business with a Conscience” is an organization, brand or corporation who understands the need for Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives, plus more to meet the desires of their customers, employees and stakeholders. In an evolving society where more than just the price of a product or service drives the purchasing decision, and where employees want to work for employers who care about more than just their bottom line, “Businesses with a Conscience” are in a position to be leaders and effect real change in the world.

Here’s an introduction to the key elements of Business with Conscience. 

  • Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

ESG — the first half of the Business with a Conscience equation — is a non-financial evaluation of a business. An ESG evaluation is typically conducted by investors or stakeholders as a way to determine risks associated with the business in question. 

The business’s operational performance is evaluated (and scored) through the 3 lenses of ESG: 

  • Environmental → i.e. What sustainability practices are in place?
  • Social → i.e. What mental health supports are available for employees?
  • Governance → i.e. How frequently are internal audits done (and by whom)?

The results of the evaluation, or the ESG score, can be used  to identify areas they’re succeeding in and areas that need more attention. 

  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR — the second half of the Business with a Conscience equation — is the idea that businesses should work to make a positive impact on the communities they serve. 

Much like ESG, CSR isn’t a financial evaluation of a business. 

While CSR can look like donations of time or money, it can also include launching sustainability initiatives or developing a workplace code of ethics, for example. CSR initiatives can vary from business to business, but the goal is the same across the board: it’s about giving back to your customers, your employees, and your communities. 

So, What’s Business with a Conscience Really?

At Hope Factory we love the concept of Business with a Conscience. By combining the most important aspects of ESG and CSR into a new, focused approach we can tangibly see how organizations are really making a difference. 

Business with a Conscience is a mindset shift that makes sure your business is doing the right things where it counts. When you adopt a Business with a Conscience attitude, you do what’s needed to make your business ethical, inclusive, and sustainable, giving back to the communities and the people that support you. 

At its core, Business with a Conscience is about making a difference. 

3 Reasons Why You Need Business with a Conscience

While Business with a Conscience has only recently come to light, the changing priorities of consumers, employees, and communities mean this shift is here to stay. 

Here are 3 reasons why your business needs to start the shift: 

  • It Creates Consumer Champions 

When choosing a business to buy from, today’s consumers are paying extra close attention to what a brand is doing (or not doing) to make a difference.  Consumers gravitate toward brands that say what they’ll do to make a difference, and then actually work to fulfill those promises. 

Shifting to Business with a Conscience allows your brand to reprioritize making a difference, finding new and creative ways to give back. Participating in Hope Factory’s Cash Forward solution, for example, is one way you can demonstrate your commitment to supporting important causes, fostering trust and confidence from your consumers as a result. 

And, consumers who are confident in your commitment quickly become more than just consumers — they become champions for your brand. 

  • It Improves Employee Satisfaction

Business with a Conscience isn’t just about making a difference externally. It’s about the internal differences, too, especially considering how many unmet needs employees typically have. And employees are likely the most important stakeholders in almost any business.

In a 2022 Mercer survey, Canadians identified gaps in their workplace’s ability to meet their needs, from physical and mental health to work/life balance and purpose. 

Operating through a Business with a Conscience perspective enables you to identify and address employee concerns. For example, if employees want to create a charitable initiative of their own, a good business will give them the tools and latitude to do so. But a great business will support them with an Employee Matching program. Business with a Conscience empowers you to make these changes, big or small, and show your employees that you’re listening, you care, and their happiness matters.

  • It Enriches Our Communities

Giving back to your community, its organizations, and its members is another reason to shift to a Business with a Conscience mindset. 

Depending on your business’s values and purpose, contributing to the greater good of your community can look very different. For example, if your business supports a very specific cause, you might consider developing a corporate partnership with a local charitable organization. Then, by growing your partnership using the Hope Factory platform, you and your charitable partner can leverage our Round UP or Cash Forward solutions to raise funds in your community for your community. 

Partnering with community organizations, working with community members, and giving back to causes that matter is what Business with a Conscience is all about. 

Making the transition to Business with a Conscience helps your business reframe what’s important to you (and the people around you), made even easier by leveraging Hope Factory solutions like Cash Forward and Round UP. 

We’re in the middle of a massive paradigm shift that requires businesses to be more than just businesses. Are you ready to start doing more of what matters?