Why does Social Responsibility matter?
Early this morning I woke to the sound of dogs barking madly, mine, the next-door neighbors’ and the ones next to them. Then I heard a sharp pop followed by two more pops. Three neighborhood vehicles were on fire. Thankfully, the fire department put the fire out quickly.
Arson investigators asked me questions, but I hadn’t seen anything. I felt despondent and helpless. Even though I wanted to help the victims of the fire, I had no ability to do so.
I offered the only help I could think of. My neighbors had lost any way to drive over the weekend. Fortuitously, I had an extra car sitting in my driveway. It was a small gesture. As an individual, I feel morally obligated to help others when I can. And we at Minerva apply this same ethical approach to our business.
Social Responsibility in Business
At the very beginning, when we started Minerva, we four founders decided that a significant portion of our work would be for the benefit of others—30 percent to be exact. We each had a compelling need, a moral obligation and a deep desire, to give to society. It turns out that this is called Social Responsibility and when an organization, like Minerva, includes in its charter a commitment to benefiting society that organization is a Public Benefit Company.
We have approached other organizations to offer assistance. Other organizations have sought us out as well. We have worked pro bono for a veteran-owned company helping other veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, an organization based on early literacy interventions in public schools, a group focused on encouraging girls to explore and enjoy science and math, and multiple other organizations. And our pro bono work extends to executive coaching.
While we tend to focus on non-profits, there are times that we find a for-profit organization needing a little help with a worthy project, such as a large hospital whose doctors needed training in how to best have end-of-life conversations with the parents of their young patients.
Why Social Responsibility Matters
Does altruism motivate us? Some argue that there is no true altruism. We always receive something in return for helping others. At Minerva, that is certainly correct. We do not receive an increase in our bottom line financially. However, we do receive food for our souls, the deep satisfaction and sense of rightness that comes with having made a difference to even one organization.
We hope that some of those pebbles our pro bono work allows us to toss in the water will create ripples. And we hope those ripples travel to and benefit many other places and people.