Social responsibility: Yes, supporting a cause can be good for business

Sometimes, change can be good. And I’m starting to understand that advocating for change can also be good for business.

As the founder and CEO of Geebo, I’ve made some business decisions in the past that tie more to my ethical and moral beliefs than they do to a bottom line. I’ve written in the past about how being an investor-free company allows me to make decisions that sometimes aren’t necessarily in-line with boosting the bottom line. 

It wasn’t until I attended a Business Insider Social Summit last month that I came across a group of people who not only advocated for “doing good” as part of a business strategy but noted how those efforts can also be good for the bottom line. 

Call it cause-based marketing, if you will. The panelists at the summit spoke of the large consumer market that not only supports companies that are committed to good causes but also may be willing to punish companies that don’t actively support good causes. How do they punish those companies? Carol Cone, a panelist representing Edelman Business and Social Purpose, said that more than one-third of American consumers openly criticize companies that don’t support good causes, refuse to buy their products or services or share negative opinions and experiences with others. 

Through today’s active social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter and even Yelp., consumers are empowered more than ever to share thoughts and feelings about specific businesses and products. 

Supporting good causes and – more importantly – making business decisions with those good causes in mind has long been a part of what drives Geebo into some areas and keeps it out of others. From our early partnerships with the Boys and Girls Clubs in the Sacramento area to a more recent partnership with WeGoLook, an online service committed to protecting online shoppers from being victims of scams. 

Today, Geebo’s big push – on the site and beyond – is to promote a safe online marketplace for all. Specifically, that includes elimination of personals ads where human trafficking and prostitution can often be solicited, as well as being an advocate for the cause. I was alone on that limb when I killed personals ads and again when I called on my industry counter parts to follow my lead. None did – and some wondered how the business decision would impact my bottom line. 

Frankly, I’d do it all over again. 

You see, success can be measured in many ways, such as the ability to sleep with your own moral conscience or to bask in the positive feedback that comes from people who support your efforts. True business success is not always measured in dollars and cents.

 It’s nice to know that I’m not alone in that sort of thinking.