By: Oliver Stepe, President of YKK AP America, Inc. on April 11th, 2017
Building the Future: How Giving Back Can Boost your Bottom Line
Over the past several years there has been a shift in how businesses big and small view corporate social responsibility. What was once a nice to have, has transformed into an integral part of a company’s business strategy, and is now a key factor in driving growth and building brand value. Customers, partners and employees alike are increasingly interested in a company’s efforts to give back.
The construction industry has a great and lasting impact on society. We create the very buildings that house people, whether for home, work, or play, and our work directly influences society’s well-being and the environment. As a result, it is critical that we recognize our huge influence and incorporate social responsibility into our everyday business practices. This positive mindset benefits business, the industry, society and the environment, making it a win-win all around.
Set Your Brand Apart
Whether your business rests on social responsibility as a part of its foundation or you are just getting started, strong, sincere and longstanding practices of giving back can build the industry and your business’ brand. In an age where advances in social media have forever changed the meaning of “word of mouth,” public perception is no longer what it used to be. The level of accountability in good business practices has never been stronger.
So when it comes to social responsibility, it is critical to commit to and act upon your business’ true values. Doing so will build your brand and set it apart from the competition. Your organization will become a strong partner in the community and the industry and one that cares about its impact, and developing society for the better. In the construction industry, this can be as simple as committing to specifying or manufacturing sustainable, responsibly made products and creating energy efficient designs, or as involved as aligning your brand with a specific organization or initiative to raise money and enact change.
Recruit and Retain Happy, Committed Employees
At a time when the construction industry, in particular, is facing a labor shortage, recruiting and retaining top talent is critical. Research increasingly shows that social responsibility positively influences employee satisfaction, overall morale and ultimately retention.
According to a 2016 study by Cone Communications, 51 percent of employees choose not to work for a company without strong social and environmental commitments and 71 percent of employees feel more fulfilled when given the opportunity to make a positive impact at work. By incorporating social responsibility practices into everyday business, employees feel they are contributing to something greater than themselves. This builds morale, improves employee retention and positively enhances recruiting efforts, making your company more attractive to future candidates.
Build a Thriving Community and Business
Social responsibility is critical to building and maintaining a successful, thriving community in which to do business. Giving back can create more harmony in the community, enhancing its reputation as a good place to live and work. For example, by partnering to expand and improve upon green space in your company’s downtown hub, your business is directly contributing to a healthier, happier community. Simply put, when the communities in which we work thrive, we too can thrive.
Cut Costs and Gain Customers
Cost savings and efficiency are top of mind to any business. In today’s increasingly transparent business landscape, customers and partners want to do business with conscious companies. When companies visibly invest in their communities and society as a whole, customers and partners are more likely to do business with them. This has a direct and positive impact on sales. In addition, by building more sustainable practices, for example, by committing to responsibly made products or minimizing energy waste, also cuts spending.
At the end of the day, embracing corporate social responsibility practices improves your company’s brand, enhances the communities and industries in which your company does business, and builds happy, loyal employees. As our Chairman and CEO Tadahiro Yoshida continues to advise, “Seek corporate value of higher significance.”
YKK AP is a platinum-level sponsor of AEC Cares’ projectOrlando taking place April 26, 2017. YKK AP President Oliver Stepe talked about YKK AP’s involvement in this year’s project.
"We are pleased to partner with AEC Cares on project Orlando this year,” says Oliver Stepe, President of YKK AP America Inc. "Not only is this is a wonderful opportunity to support an organization [the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida] that provides such an important service to a community, but to do so in an area where our own YKK AP employees live and work. Projects like this demonstrate a company value we call 'the Cycle of Goodness' which states no one prospers without rendering benefit to others. We appreciate AEC Cares for sharing in that value and putting this project together."
To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, donating materials or volunteering for projectOrlando, please visit the AEC Cares website at aeccares.com.
Oliver Stepe, President, YKK AP America Inc.
Oliver oversees YKK AP America, the North American arm of the global architectural products producer, YKK AP Inc. Recently celebrating its twenty-fifth year in the United Sates, YKK AP America Inc. has grown from a regional supplier to a national company and has become a fully integrated fenestration systems producer with businesses in both commercial building envelope and residential windows for new and replacement, single and multi-family homes.
Since joining the company in 1992 in Washington DC, Oliver has held roles of increasing responsibility including business development, regional business management, vice president of sales and operations, and his most recent role prior to becoming company president; senior vice president, where he led strategic growth initiatives.
Oliver is a glass industry subject matter expert, has often been quoted in industry publications, and speaks at industry conferences. Oliver is a two-time recipient of the most influential people in the glass and metal industry award by USGlass Magazine. A graduate of the State University of New York, he is a member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce as well as an associate member of the American Institute of Architects.