When we started Diefendorff, there were several things that were important to us. First, we had to make great watches. Not negotiable. That’s obvious.
But, as we listed in the Our Values section of our web site, there's more to our business than just creating and selling great watches. We wanted to “Behave in a way your customers expect. Your mom, too.” The spirit in that core value carries into a number of things we do. But without a commitment, it's just empty words. So, it's time to make a commitment. Read on...
Why a Giving Back Policy Makes Sense for Us
As the founder of the company, I wanted to make sure that the way we work as a company reflects my history. I started my career in the think-tank world of Washington, DC working on corporate social responsibility efforts. After that, I worked on corporate social responsibility inside companies and then worked on sustainability as a consultant. My whole career has been focused on helping big companies to do good things for people and the planet while also earning a profit.
Years and years ago, when I had my own CSR consulting company, we wrote about two ways companies can approach running their businesses - either a shareholder or a stakeholder approach. The post gets rather nerdy quickly, but given my professional history you can imagine I am a supporter of the stakeholder approach to business - there's more to running a company than just returning a profit to investors. So it was natural to make sure Diefendorff, Inc. did as well.
Our First Commitment: Pledge 1% (and more)
One of the ways -- not the only way -- we will do the right thing by our stakeholders is by setting aside a certain percentage of profits to give to charity.
As a first step, we've joined a movement called Pledge 1%. It's a group of businesses, some large and some small, that have taken a pledge to donate at least one percent of their company's profit, time, product or equity to charitable giving. Specific to us, we are going to donate up to 10% of our company's profit and also donate at least 1% of our company's time to volunteering.
We wanted to make this pledge early in our company's history. The reason: doing so sets a tone for everything else that comes later.
Why 10% when only 1% is required by the pledge? We just wanted to do more.
What's Next? The "How"
Perhaps just as important as the commitment we've made, we want to do more than just write checks. As helpful as that is to nonprofits, there's more to giving back than just money.
We know WHAT we will give (money) but it's HOW we plan to give that will, we hope, be interesting. Stay tuned to this blog to find out more about our plans. But it should be pretty cool.