Voluntary Business Change for Social Good

Post by Nancy E. Roman, President and CEO, PHA (@nancyroman1)

Image of a DICK's Sporting Goods storefront. When Walmart and DICK’s Sporting Goods decided — on a voluntary basis — to put restrictions on the kinds of guns they sell, I cheered out loud.

Not so much because I support sensible restrictions on the sale of guns (which I do), but because it was a real demonstration of the power that corporations can have when they — through voluntary business practice change — take a step that addresses a social concern or need.

Voluntary business practice change is at the heart of PHA's business model. Yes, there are laws and regulations, but we are all about businesses taking voluntary actions that improve the food supply or increase physical activity.

When PepsiCo voluntarily decides to restrict profit from products with fewer than 100 calories — they make a sea-change in the market place, removing trillions of calories — a step in the right direction for the health of their consumers.

When Dannon voluntarily decides to take 25 percent of the sugars out of its yogurt, it benefits all consumers — both the wealthy and less well off — as it benefits buyers in every age demographic.

Logo for the Edelman Trust Barometer. The latest Edelman Trust Barometer, which has been tracking public trust in institutions for two decades — found trust in the media and in government plummeting. At the same time, trust in corporations and businesses is rising. So it is an ideal time for food companies to step up and make changes that improve the nutritional profile of their food offerings and market those better-for-you products.

The private sector has always had power to change the market place.  And it is great to see leaders who realize that following the consumer’s taste buds may put companies at odds with broader consumer desires to live healthy and well.