Goodness is the only investment that never fails" - Henry David
We all are aware of the virtues of doing good for others. And the joy it brings not just to the receiver but to the giver as well. But sometimes we get so caught up in our lives that even this good samaritan deed eludes us.
And that's' where organizations like "Companies for Good" pitch in, to help businesses make the world a better place. It is one unique business that helps businesses and their people to do good- for the planet as well as communities.
The Brand Tribe team is excited to connect with Marc Cirera, the founder and CEO of Companies for Good, a social enterprise designed to help businesses change for good. And to know more about their values, business models, and ethics.
Marc is a business ethics, CSR, and sustainability specialist with a clear vision: a world where companies operate in a more sustainable and responsible way. He strongly believes that good business practices help companies outperform while benefiting employees, the environment, and society at large.
Marc Cirera says - We believe in creating a world where companies operate in a more sustainable and responsible way.
Marc always wanted to help people and work in a way that benefits people and the planet and that's why he decided to pursue a Master's in Business Ethics in Sydney.
How it all started? How you went from studying Economics to pursuing ethics, giving back, and doing good? Was there a personal turning point that made you create "Companies for Good" ?
I was introduced into the business world at a very early age by my grandfather, a self-made businessman. At 19, I set up my first business in hospitality while studying Economics at the University of Barcelona.
At the age of 21, I got a scholarship to study in Canada for a year. It was there, while studying abroad, that I experienced my turning point. Being away from home helped me observe my life from a different viewpoint.
Or, as I like to call it, I could see myself from “outside the bubble”.
It was then when I realized how lucky I was. I had a loving family. I had my own business. I was living abroad and having a great life. I was happy. I had everything I needed and wanted. So I decided to do something meaningful with my life. Not just working and making money.
And so when I came back home after this time abroad I sold my business and used the profits to pursue his Master’s in Business Ethics in Sydney.
And since then, in 2009, I’ve been on this space: how to do business in a way to benefits people and the planet.
Can you explain what noble work 'Companies for Good' does to our readers? And how they can be part of all your amazing causes?
At Companies for Good we help businesses - and their people! - do good. How?
Through many different ways. Sometimes we take employees to clean up a beach or to plant trees, sometimes we design diversity and inclusion programs, sometimes we help refugee kids, on other occasions we run behavioral change campaigns to boost sustainability.
Companies only need to get in touch and tell us how they want to do good. And, with our expertise and our network of partners, we make it happen.
Monetizing CSR is not as easy as it looks. How does your business model work, to ensure it remains a profitable venture?
It is often challenging to do good and at the same time make a living out of it. Our model is simple: we partner with NGOs and other organizations that help the community or the environment.
We help them design a short, appealing team activity. We then offer these activities to companies that are keen to engage their employees while making a positive impact.
We charge companies for organizing these CSR activities. We then get our fee and the rest is giving to our charity partner. In a nutshell, it’s a win-win-win model.
The companies get to involve their people in a fun and meaningful activities. The charities receive the resources they so desperately need. And the planet and the community are better off as a result of our team activities.
Who or what has been your key inspiration in life as well as in business?
Social entrepreneur (and Nobel Peace Prize!) Muhammad Yunus was a huge source of inspiration in my early days after reading his book “Creating a World Without Poverty”. He is such a successful, insightful role model!
Tell us about some of the most exciting or challenging projects that you have worked on recently. What were some key learnings from them?
We’re currently working on a very exciting project aimed at reducing cigarette butt litter, “Our world is not an Ashtray."
In collaboration with Philip Morris International. One of the things we’ve been working on a lot in UAE is cleanups - in mangrove forests, the desert, on beaches, etc.
And we’ve realized that one of the biggest issues is cigarette butts – they take a long time to biodegrade and they have a negative impact on the environment and wildlife.
We want to educate people, raise awareness and take action, so we decided to support this global campaign to tackle cigarette butt littering in the UAE.
There have been many interesting learnings thus far. An interesting one is to see a multinational company taking ownership and responsibility of their byproducts. Would love to see more and more businesses doing it.
What are some key CSR trends that you think will be very relevant in 2021? What are some of the exciting things to look out for in near future?
Sustainability is more important than ever. Nowadays all governments have it in their agendas. All business leaders and large companies want to –well, actually, have to– get into the sustainability bandwagon if they want to make it through the next decade.
We have seen a big trend for those activities related to protecting the planet and tackling climate change. From mangrove tree planting to cleaning up beaches and the desert, people want to keep our environment green and healthy. Which is critical for the future.
From ‘CSR is dead: Welcome to the age of Good', how has CSR changed from the time of its introduction? How important is the role of innovation in doing good?
Innovation is crucial. We need to find new ways of doing things. Ways that create win-win scenarios that help us achieve the positive changes our society needs.
Traditional CSR is approach as “Corporates have a Responsibility towards Society”. However, as we know all too well, responsibility on its own is not a powerful motivator. When we have to do something, we do it, but we do the bare minimum.
Responsibilities don’t make us feel good because we don’t have a choice, however, when we want to do something, our attitude changes.
Caring genuinely about the task at hand makes us feel good, and so we put more effort into our actions — this is a fundamental human truth that goes beyond business.
This is what inspired me to start a business that focused on ‘doing good’ as opposed to ‘being responsible’.
Through Companies for Good, businesses -and their people- have the opportunity to do good instantly, it is essentially good, on-demand.
All our activities focus on involving people and having fun – as well as making a positive impact. Companies work with us because they want to, not because they have to. And that’s the holy grail of this new approach.