A strong community offers companies the best opportunities to prosper and, therefore, it makes good sense for companies to work with other businesses, community groups and government to address local issues and make their community stronger.

Many companies work with others already through Chambers of Commerce and business associations to improve the economic well being of their community. However, now it is widely recognised that the economic well being of a community is closely related to the well being of the people and the environment. In other words, each of the three categories is dependent for their progress on the others.

Increasing profits

Through developing a good reputation for being supportive of their community, companies can improve profits by increasing their customers.

The Body Shop is an example of a successful business which has built a reputation as a responsible company concerned about its employees, human and animal rights, the environment and disadvantaged communities. The company does not advertise its community interests outside of its shops (see picture), but almost everyone is familiar with its positive reputation.

Responsible and caring

A recent customer survey revealed that among the top reasons they supported the company was because they believed that The Body Shop was a responsible business with caring values.

Research conducted both in Australia and overseas has revealed that nowadays more customers expect the companies from which they purchase goods and services will be socially and environmentally responsible. For many people a competitive price alone is no longer the main criteria for supporting a local business.

If a business develops a reputation for being capable, honest and caring for its community, in addition to being competitive, generally people will support it.

Marketing an image

Some businesses become involved in supporting their communities simply as a marketing strategy to increase their customer base or as an attempt to overcome a poor reputation. Some of our biggest and well-known companies engage in this practice. Communities can still benefit when the company’s main aim is to market their image, but the company will be less committed to the community project and may withdraw when a better marketing opportunity arises, sometimes at short notice.

Usually, however, people can see through this approach. It is far better for a company to earn its good reputation based on behaving well in business and doing genuine good deeds in the community.