Community

Force For Good

Community

Force For Good

Is Your Business a Force For Good? Here’s Why It Should Be.

Over the past decade, corporate social responsibility—making sure your business is a force for good—has become a major talking point in the business community. In 2019, the Business Roundtable, made up of approximately 200 major US-based corporations, went as far as releasing a new statement that committed to delivering value to all stakeholders—from customers, employees and suppliers to local communities and the environment.

These days, customers consider strong Corporate Social Responsibility policies to be a basic requirement for businesses of all sizes. Fortunately, it is possible to run a financially successful small business while also making a positive impact in your community.

In this article, we’ll share our commitment to making business a force for good, how supporting small businesses helps boost the economy, and how to walk the walk when it comes to championing local brands.

“How you show up to the community is important. I think ACS has done a tremendous job of being clear about what it stands for. That resonates, and I think it’s a core reason for the company’s growth and success.”

Eleanor Miclette

Manager of Economic Development, Town of Canmore

Our Commitment to Making Business a Force for Good

At Ashton Construction Services (ACS), our construction management firm’s core values promise to:

  • Support our employees’ happiness and well-being
  • Maintain strong relationships with team and community members
  • Establish honest, open, and realistic communication with clients and employees
  • Hold ourselves accountable for providing high-quality builds with clear communication
  • Build passion and excitement for what we do by staying up-to-date on trends and technology

We weigh our options against these corporate values any time we make a business decision. Ethically, it’s important to us to honour our commitments to clients, our employees, and ourselves—but if we’re honest, living our values also boosts our bottom line.

Ashton Construction Services - Blog - Business as a Force for Good - SMARTstart Program 2024

Photo: SMARTstart Program 2024

The Gift of Time and Effort

We’re proud of our deeply established roots in Canmore. It’s taken effort to build those close community ties, but the work has been incredibly rewarding. Founder Steve Ashton began ACS with a vision to establish his business as a force for good, and he regularly supports that goal with volunteerism. His work as a mentor with the Town of Canmore’s SMARTstart entrepreneurship training program, which provides new businesses with online training, in-person training, networking, and mentorship, is a highlight.

“It’s important because, although the failure rate for new businesses is high, those who go through training are 80% more likely to succeed,” says Eleanor Miclette, the Town of Canmore’s Manager of Economic Development. “And having local mentors like Steve is imperative because they know the local market. They can talk about what worked for them, and what didn’t.”

We try to apply that same care with our employees. As members of our community and our team, it’s our responsibility to take their well-being very seriously.

“I see Steve as a frontrunner in a lot of these conversations,” says Miclette. “He was one of the first ones to sign the Bow Valley Workplace Inclusion Charter. And he lives those values. He has women in lead roles in a male-dominated industry. His hiring focuses on ethnic diversity. He thinks hard about how he wants to show up in the community and he makes sure that his staff can afford to live in one of the most expensive communities in all of Canada.”

 

 

Ashton Construction Services - Blog - Business as a Force for Good - Steve Ashton Mentoring 2024

Photo: ACS’s Founder, CEO & President, Steve Ashton mentoring with the SMARTstart Program

Strong Communities Support Small Business

Supporting small local brands is another one of our favourite ways to make business a force for good in our community. But there are plenty of excellent financial reasons to shop local, too:

1. More small business jobs = more spending power

Small and medium businesses across Canada provide 10 million jobs and employ 88% of Canada’s working individuals in the private labour workforce. When we support other local businesses, we’re helping to ensure our neighbours have work—and the financial capacity to support us in return.

2. Small businesses support vibrant communities that attract skilled workers

“Local businesses tend to donate over 250% more to local, not-for-profit and charities than the larger entities,” says Miclette. “Unlike national and multinational corporations, local businesses understand where the needs are because they’re embedded in the community.”

These efforts help build more vibrant communities, which benefits the people who already live there—and makes it easier to attract skilled workers.

Ashton Construction Services - BVIP Event 2024 - Photo by Kristy Wolfe

Photo: Kristy Wolfe – BVIP Event 2024

3. Shopping locally strengthens the economy by keeping money in the community longer

“Local businesses provide jobs, and then those employees purchase their groceries in a local store, participate in local recreation, and go to local restaurants,” says Miclette.
Then, those local stores and restaurants purchase local food, art, and other products, which keeps the funds recirculating. The longer the money stays in the community, the stronger the local economy becomes.

4. Shopping local reduces your carbon footprint—and saves money

Worried about the environment? Miclette says, “Instead of going to a larger chain in Calgary, cut back your time on the road by purchasing your building supplies at Home Hardware in Canmore.” Choosing to support local businesses can also reduce shipping costs and fuel consumption.

Ashton Construction Services - International Women’s Day Event 2024

Photo: International Women’s Day Event 2024

Walk the Walk

“If you look at the younger generation, 90% of them are willing to shift their purchasing habits if a company’s values align with them,” says Miclette. “They’re telling the market that who you are matters, what you stand for matters. You need to be clear on what you stand for, and what you support.”

Unfortunately, some companies promise more than they can offer—and Miclette says that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you’re attempting to build trust. If you make good on your commitment to making your business a force for good, the current market will reward you for it, but you’re better off not making a promise at all if it’s not achievable.

Modern consumers are able and willing to verify any claims you make. Fortunately, there are at least two ways to make sure that your company survives the scrutiny.

Be accountable and transparent

The first step is to make sure that your potential customers know what you stand for by stating them on your website. Then let those values be your guide in every scenario.

“It’s really about what people are saying about you and your brand,” says Miclette. “Ask your customers to provide references and feedback about their experiences working with you on social media, so that you’re not just tooting your own horn.”

Employee advocacy can help too—but first, you need to ensure they’re happy and supported. “When your employees see their employers living their values, they like to talk about it,” says Miclette. “And that word-of-mouth is so much more valuable because you’re not just paying them to be marketers—they’re spreading the word because they’re passionate about what they’re seeing, and that’s why they’re choosing to work with you.”

Ashton Construction Services - BVIP Event 2024 - Photo by Kristy Wolfe 2

Photo: Kristy Wolfe – BVIP Event 2024

Get B Corp certified

In 2006, 13 years before the Business Roundtable released its statement committing to supporting all stakeholders, a non-profit called B Lab launched a movement to “make business a force for good.”

These efforts include establishing the internationally recognized B Corp certification, which is described on the B Lab website as “a designation that a business is meeting high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials.”

“There’s a growing movement in B Corps,” says Miclette. “When you get certified, you’re saying that you’re about more than just profit, that you’re also about people and the environment.” The certification goes as far as requiring companies to make a legal commitment to being accountable to all stakeholders.

If the B Corp values align with your corporate values, it may make sense to pursue the designation, because it’s an easy way to show customers that you’re keeping up with your ethical commitments.

“Steve is a pivotal part of the community. You can’t drive around town and not see an Ashton Construction build. And it’s because Steve has a proven track record of being ethical, passionate, and community-minded. And that I think those are his core strengths.”

Eleanor Miclette

Manager of Economic Development, Town of Canmore

Ashton Construction Services is hoping to begin work towards this achievement in the coming years. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which route you choose, as long as your customers know what you stand for—and that you’re genuinely doing everything you can to make your business a force for good.

We’re honoured to contribute to the growth of Bow Valley through a variety of local commercial construction projects. Learn more about this exciting work.

Photos: Eva Urbanska
Case study by Scribe National

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