There is power in meaningful work, and in growing a business that not only thrives but gives back. One of the ways in which some businesses are achieving this is through supporting or partnering with veterans. Many veterans return to their local communities with physical, mental or emotional scars that make it hard for them to find employment and to earn a living wage. Many are isolated and vulnerable, and even homeless. So what can your business do to help veterans in need?
1. Financial Support
As a start, you could cultivate creative ways of generating financial support for veterans through projects, campaigns or charitable partnerships.
2. Leadership & Ethos
Leading in business is also about leading conversations and driving change. You could think about the ways in which your business could help to raise awareness about the many men and women who have faithfully served our country and are now struggling to rebuild their lives.
3. Business Model
One of the most innovative approaches to this question is to develop a business model that actually partners with veterans in an authentic way. This way, your business can help to raise awareness of the need to give back to our veterans, demonstrate a different kind of business model that is centered on humanity, equality and service, drive conversation and inspire other businesses to follow your lead, as well as providing a regular income, meaningful work and social connection for veterans in need.
Look to companies like Pingree for inspiration about how you might shape your business around giving back in this way. Based in Detroit, they identified an opportunity to make high quality, sustainable footwear and other leather products in a way that contributes to the wellbeing of their customers, communities and workforce.
They bring civilians and veterans together, training and employing apprentices from local communities to design and handcraft their leather products. In this way, Pingree are providing meaningful and fulfilling employment and building resiliency into their communities. Crucially, every element of the process takes place in Detroit, from design and prototyping to final production, so the business model supports the local workforce and economy in a powerful and sustainable way. The materials are also locally sourced, including reclaimed premium leather from the Detroit auto industry.
Pingree is a great example of proactive business leadership that looks for opportunities to do things differently. It provides veterans with a new skill, challenge and creative output, as well as a sustainable living wage, and gives them an active, visible and valued role to play in their local community.
Don’t under-estimate your power as a business leader to do something transformative, for individuals and communities, while still growing a successful and thriving business. What are the needs? What are the opportunities? What could you do to give back?