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What does it mean for business to be socially aware?

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The business of changing the world

Socially aware businesses have an incredible impact on society as they tackle environmental and social issues, in addition to providing employment and making a profit.

They exist to benefit themselves, their customers, their social cause, and the economy, but what does it look like for a business to be socially aware in practical terms?

On Helping Hands, mental health author and speaker, Graeme Cowan; founder and CEO of Pro Purpose, Alana Nicholls; and CEO and Chief Storyteller of the ImpactInstitute, Mark Jones, discuss what it means for a business to be socially aware.

Mark explains that the two key factors in converting a business’ social awareness to impactful change are culture and systems. Having both a healthy and purposeful business culture, as well as effective systems and processes, is vital to creating a socially aware business capable of effecting real change.

“If you get (culture and systems) right, and you apply that out through all the different parts of the organisation, you can’t help but be aware. We all know why we exist, and it’s really about being... more aware of the change we're making,” says Mark.

Graeme adds to this, emphasising how crucial it is that a business’ social awareness includes a culture of care at all levels; having processes in place that look after the mental health of staff.

“If we care for our colleagues and those around us, if we have each other's back, if we have a shared future, we feel really committed to the future of the company, and that then flows out into the community.”

Alana says that businesses should be proud of their purpose. At Pro Purpose, the motto Stand and Shine is used to encourage businesses to find their best pathway of effective social awareness and to make it known to staff and customers.

“When you share your story well... it attracts more business to you which therefore allows you to give more, and your team can be united around stuff," she said. "'Don’t keep silent! Don’t keep silent!’”

The world of business is changing – and thankfully, through the increasing desire of businesses to be more socially aware – it’s for the better. Australians are starting to see the exciting potential of socially aware businesses, and the impact they can make across many levels of society.

Mark ends the panel discussion talking about the benefits to business. "There have been numerous studies out there that point to the fact that when you have a social conscience, and you act on that... you can be far more commercially successful and make a difference.

“If you’ve set out on a path to make a difference, then you’re going to see some real change. And what’s more satisfying than making a difference?"


See the WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR BUSINESS TO BE SOCIALLY AWARE? discussion and the full catalogue of Helping Hands panels at Catch up on full episodes of Helping Hands on 9NOW.

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* Our panellists, Mark Jones, Graeme Cowan and Alana Nicholls, and the Helping Hands producers are available for interview on radio, TV and online to discuss this topic. Get in touch at


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