No doubt some have noticed that companies are increasingly involved in community and social issues. Some very well-known examples are Nike and its relationship with Colin Kaepernick and Patagonia and its struggle with President Donald Trump for the protection of national parks in the United States (which Trump opened up to oil, gas and mining companies). These are just two examples of many. But why should these companies be taking social stands on hot button issues when, in most cases, it goes against company policy? Maybe it’s because of this: doing good is good for business. Companies now see a real benefit in taking a stand on various issues that they never would have addressed before.
The customers of these companies have begun to demand that the companies do something for the environment or society, otherwise they will take their business elsewhere. For example, 75% of consumers in the United States say they are willing to do business with a company that supports issues they care about and 66% say they are willing to pay more for a product from a company that supports important social issues (Clutch, January 2019).
The CEO of the consulting company Deloitte summed it up well – “We firmly believe that companies motivated by a greater social purpose will be stronger, more successful businesses for the long term.” But how do Icelandic companies perform in terms of social responsibility? Have they taken as clear a stand as those abroad?
Certainly, Icelandic companies support sports activities on a large scale. Íslandsbanki comes to mind for equality issues, all packaging at Te & Kaffi has become biodegradable with the goal of sourcing all energy from Icelandic methane. Olís has supported forestry for years, BM Vallá aims for carbon neutrality and of course many companies are role models in waste sorting, but there the list ends.
It is becoming clearer that there are many opportunities for Icelandic companies to show their customers that they understand this new expectation and are at the same time thinking long-term. It shows goodwill, it’s good business, and puts them in better standing in the eyes of potential customers.