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Facebook hit the stage to announce the company’s new mission to a hall filled with community group heads in Chicago

AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL

When Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg, hit the stage in June to
announce the company’s new mission to a hall filled with community group
heads in Chicago, Illinois, it was obvious that something revolutionary
– or at least, profound – was about to happen.

The tech-entrepreneur told Facebook users across the world – all 2
billion of them – that the company is doing what it has not done in 10
years – it is changing its policy direction from its mission to develop a
platform to ‘make the world more open and connected’ to one that has a
broader value proposition: ‘Give people the power to build community and
bring the world closer together.’

In a 3,000 word treatise that followed, Zuckerberg took time to
explain the rationale behind the company’s move stating that rather than
moving away from its mission of connecting friends and family, Facebook
is simply embarking on a social mission broadening its focus to enable
people connect with ‘meaningful communities’. He said communities help
users find common ground, which helps people engage with new
perspectives and become aware of different issues. Groups also offer
individuals personal support, which gives them bandwidth to look outward
and address the biggest human problems, like climate change, global
health issues, domestic violence, substance abuse, and more.

Essentially Facebook is on a mission to help people across the world
gain perspective by providing them a platform to engage in groups.

“We’ve been thinking about what our responsibility is in the world,”
Zuckerberg said in an interview. “Connecting friends and family has been
pretty positive, but I think there is just this collective feeling that
we have a responsibility to do more than that and also help build
communities and help people get exposed to new perspectives and meet new
people — not just give people a voice, but also help build common
ground so people can actually move forward together.”

Many private organizations across the world are increasingly seeing
the need to engage in activities that are traditionally the sole
prerogative of public institutions and governments. We are increasingly
seeing brands who consider impacting the lives of citizens and
communities as a mission that must be accomplished with or without the
collaboration of government or its institutions.

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Like Facebook, other companies like Chivas Regal which organizes ‘The
Venture’ – an international contest open to social entrepreneurs using
business as a force for good – and the Union Bank Centenary Innovation
Challenge – an initiative set to impact Nigeria by unearthing and
supporting innovative ideas for addressing the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) in entrepreneurial ways – are taking Corporate Social
Responsibility a notch higher by taking on far bigger national and
global challenges.

RED, the media company which I co-founded with my partner, Chude
Jideonwo perhaps takes it a bit further by placing its core-growth
ideology around inspiring and enabling young people to engage towards
inclusive growth and active nation-building.

With this shift in approach, it is increasingly apparent that
companies are realising the need to step beyond the laser focus on
profits, eschew the tokenism that has hitherto been regarded as CSR, and
invest resources in directly impacting the lives of people and
communities around them for the greater good. It is hard to argue
against this business philosophy as the way to go moving into the
future.

Here are some benefits derived by companies who dare to exhibit some humanity while taking care of business.

Brand differentiation: Brands with a focus on innovation and impact
tend to, on the medium and long term, build a reputation among potential
customers, consumers and stakeholders as the go-to entity when they
need practical solutions to their problems.

For example, brands with established initiatives towards enrolling
children displaced by insurgency in the North-west of Nigeria or that
which invests massively in providing entrepreneurial training for
start-ups across the country would have succeeded in not only building
top-of-mind awareness in solving nagging societal challenges, but also
gathering a groundswell of goodwill with which they can draw from in the
future.
 
Heightened brand appeal: We only do business with brands we like. And
if the brand in question appeals to your emotions by offering quality
services while taking care of collective challenges – even better. It’s
therefore little wonder why financial institutions such as GTBank and
its likes invest resources in lifestyle engagements. This is clearly to
position itself as 360-degree brand with a focus on satisfying the daily
needs of the rapidly increasing, highly dynamic, attention challenged,
digitally-active customers.

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Good old trust: Looking closely at the Facebook’s example, it is
clear that the global company has chosen the path of trust. With its new
mission, the brand has taken another important step in deepening its
relationship with users who interact and share information on the
platform daily.
Positioning your business as a purpose-driven entity with the sole
objective of building a better future etches its essence on the minds of
customers and stakeholders alike as a partner, rather than a faceless
entity with no soul.

Regardless of the size of your brand, it is becoming a growing
imperative to adopt ideals that reach beyond profitmaking. The real path
to growth is exploiting the values that lie in caring for the holistic
wellbeing of the next person. As Zuckerberg maintained in his address:
“We have to build a world where everyone has a sense of purpose and
community. That’s how we’ll bring the world closer together. We have to
build a world where we care about a person in India or China or Nigeria
or Mexico as much as a person here. That’s how we’ll achieve our
greatest opportunities and build the world we want for generations to
come.”
The future starts now.

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