Good for business…business for good

Three short steps to becoming an impactful family business

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Every journey starts with a single step. Ours was to speak to several family businesses to understand why they decided to embark on their impact journeys, the challenges they faced and how they’re progressing towards their goals.

We got many valuable insights. But we also saw that family businesses are perfectly placed to inspire larger companies worldwide to be a force for good. The information we gained helped us create three clear steps that have been turned into a compass to becoming an impactful family business.

On this page you will find our three clear steps to help family businesses understand how to become a force for good along with stories of change to inspire you on your own impact journeys.

Good for Business… Business for Good Compass

A practical workbook guide

Maybe you’re wondering how your business might achieve its purpose and maximize its impact. Perhaps you’ve started your journey but got diverted on the way. Or you might be wondering how you can ingrain positive impact in your business for years to come. Whatever your reasons for reading, you’ve come to the right place.

While the compass guides you logically through each step, we know every business is at a different stage on the road to becoming a force for good. So, feel free to read the compass from start to finish, or to peruse the chapters of greatest interest. There’s no wrong way to go. And remember, if you feel you need some one-to-one support, UBS is here to help. Just get in touch and we’ll accompany you on your journey.

Ready? Let’s get started.

You can also get a copy from your client advisor.


Understanding the need to change

Before tackling an issue, you first need to understand it. That means recognizing the drivers demanding on businesses to make a positive impact:

  • Compliance and regulation
  • Stakeholder demand
  • Employee engagement

It’s equally important to understand the opportunities that committing to – and communicating – your values and goals can bring to your family business:

  • Win over customers with new products and services
  • Manage costs over the long term
  • Attract and keep top talent

Discover the questions you need to ask yourself.

Ask your client advisor for a copy of the Compass.

There’s a growing awareness among companies that if they want to attract capital, they need to engage transparently with investors, and act on their concerns.
Michael Baldinger, Chief Sustainability Officer, UBS


Dedicating your business to doing good

Once you’ve understood the reasons for and benefits of making a positive impact, it’s time to commit to it. See your family’s purpose, values and goals as a map guiding you to the areas where you can maximize your impact. From there, you’ll need to embed everything into your company’s daily operations and long-term strategy. This involves two important steps:

  • Shared values
  • Inspire everyone

You’ll also need to look at the challenges that matter most to your business and its ongoing success:

  • Consider your company’s current problems, successes and investments from an impact perspective
  • Supplement stakeholders’ views with information from networks, peers and portfolios
  • Ensure managers focus on the most important areas
  • Consider wider industry standards

Discover the questions you need to ask yourself.

Ask your client advisor for a copy of the Compass.

Among the world’s wealthy, entrepreneurs are the most likely to use their money to make the world a better place and they have a willingness to take risks on how funds are used.
Tom Hall, Head of Social Impact and Philanthropy

Compel change

Reshaping the business for good

Congratulations for getting this far. Now it’s time to bring all your values and plans together, and start reshaping your family business into a force for good. This involves the following three steps:

  • Engaging key stakeholders
  • Building an inclusive strategy and metrics
  • Embedding your strategy

To stay on track for in achieving your goals, it’s important to measure the effectiveness of your new strategy. But measuring can be complex and costly.

We suggest two possible solutions:

  • Keep things simple
  • Put a price on every element of your impact
  • Connect with your peers

Ready to take the next steps?

Ask your client advisor for a copy of the Compass.

Tips for family businesses

Five tips for family businesses

Our interviews with family businesses highlighted five golden rules for becoming more impactful:

Care for your people
Your employees will be more willing to speak up for what’s right when they know the company cares about them.

Culture is caught, not taught
Business leaders need to communicate their purpose and goals clearly, and back it all up with action. Words can rally people around a cause. But you need to practice what you preach.

Collaborate and build trust
Working closely with your stakeholders (for example, customers, employees, suppliers and government bodies) will reveal more opportunities to make an impact.

Commit to create values for generations in the long term
Family businesses should be part of the solution - and not the problem - for society.

Change with conviction
The world’s challenges cannot be addressed by investments and philanthropy alone. Your business might be your strongest tool for changing things. But in your business, you’ll need to understand the challenges, implement the right solutions and adapt continuously to change.

The world economy has reached the limits of sustainability. We have been using resources at an unsustainable pace. A company that’s not responsible is not likely to be profitable.
Paul Donovan, Chief Economist, UBS Global Wealth Management

How we can help

How can we help you comprehend?

  • We can provide expert knowledge and insights into the trends, risks and opportunities relating to your business. We’ll shed light on reasons to change – and the best ways to do just that.
  • We also connect people with likeminded entrepreneurs, businesses and experts through exclusive UBS networks, including:
    • Industry Leader Network – An elite group of global business owners. The network delivers interactive events on relevant business topics, and valuable economic and industry insights not found in any newspaper.
    • Growth Entrepreneur Network(PDF, 432 KB) – This group of exceptional growth entrepreneurs is dedicated to accelerating business growth. The network provides members with access to new contacts, mentors, insights and funding opportunities.
    • Global Visionaries – This network comprises outstanding entrepreneurs working towards one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to “… end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity.” 12

How can we help you dedicate your business to doing good

  • You’ll need to consider different perspectives and expectations, both from inside and outside your family. How will you define your values and goals, communicate them across your family, and seek everyone’s agreement? We can guide you, your family and your business through the steps required to commit to change.

How we can help you shape your business for good

  • Once you’ve understood the need to change – and your business is committed to changing – it’s time to make it happen.
  • For example, sustainable investments are our core recommendation for clients.
  • And we’re pioneers in “social finance” – investments that combine corporate and charitable funds to make a massive impact on global challenges. We’re also leaders in “collective philanthropy”, pooling the resources of businesses and philanthropists to make the biggest-possible difference in the world.

All this is available to you through our philanthropy services and UBS Optimus Foundation: the world’s only independent philanthropy organization backed by a truly global wealth manager.

The Foundation:

  • funds philanthropy programs aimed at changing lives for the better, especially in education, health, the environment and child protection
  • provides philanthropy programs with innovative tools and expertise to succeed and grow
  • combines donations and investments to create the financial muscle needed to change the world.
Words alone are not enough. We have to back up those words with tangible action and results.
Josef Stadler, Executive Vice-Chairman, UBS Global Wealth Management

Family businesses on their journey to achieving impact

Alessandro Garrone

Executive Deputy Chairman, ERG

"Perhaps the hardest part was trying to change traditional mindsets within the previous generation."

Marcelo Behar

Vice President, Sustainability and Group Affairs, Natura &Co (Avon, Natura, The Body Shop and Aesop)

"There's a lot of beauty in the world. The biggest challenge now is working out how to adopt practices that will regenerate the world's living systems."

Michael McCain

President and CEO, Maple Leaf Foods

"It's not enough for businesses to talk about sustainability. Figuring out what to do is the easy part. But actually getting it done – that's where the real work starts."

Patrick Firmenich

Chairman of the Board, Firmenich

"Our core values have always been there. What's important to us hasn't changed. What we call sustainability now, we used to call a standard of ethics, but for us, it's the same."

Julie Smolyansky

President and CEO, Lifeway Foods

"The time is now for business leaders like me to speak up, lead and scale our values."

Jim McCann

Founder and Chairman,

"What's really changed is our perception of what our community and customers want and expect from us."

Pedro Carvajal

CEO, Carvajal

"We said we're not the government and we can't replace it. We're a foundation that just wants to help create a better society – and you're the best people to tell us how to do that. From that moment, we started earning people's trust and confidence."

Ton Goedmakers

CEO, Vebego

Giuseppe Santagada

COO Germany/ Switzerland, Vebego

"It's like the butterfly effect, where one small change leads to a massive impact. Someone sitting on a train will have a positive experience. And as they get off, they'll pass that positivity on to other people. The impact can be huge. And I think it starts with us."

Sid Amalean

Head of Sustainable Business, MAS Holdings

Amanthi Perera

Head of Social Sustainability, MAS Holdings

"It's about having the courage to face challenges head on and to do what it takes to create meaningful change – that's what drives us at MAS"

Andreas Jacobs

Former Chairman of the Board, Barry Callebaut

"I think I was only able to push the company to get there because we were key shareholders and I was chairman. Without that family influence, we probably wouldn't have approved such projects."

Florian Funck

Chief Financial Officer, Franz Haniel & Cie

"For us, it's about being in business for a very long time – not just succeeding for the next five years. It's not a game about winning or losing. It's about staying in the game."

Johan H. Andresen

Owner and Chair, Ferd

"We want to attract great people who can change things. I'm not Plato's philosopher king, Warren Buffett or Elon Musk. I don't know where we're going. But I attract people with great values and potential. And, basically, I let them loose."

André Hoffmann

Vice Chairman, Roche

"We need to change how we measure impact. We measure profit. But profit is just a concept and a system we've invented to define success. If we only measure money, we're only capturing a fraction of human activity. We're missing all the unpaid positive work we do, like running clubs and caring for our children. These activities are the essence of our social fabric. But no one's measuring them."

Yancey Hai

Chairman, Delta Electronics

"A lot of people think sustainability is a waste of money. We needed to prove that saving money means making money."

Ho Ren Hua

Thai Wah Public Company

Ho Ren Yung

Banyan Tree Group

Ho Ren Chun

Family Office

"We're here to stay and we're here for the long term, to weather crises and global events for multiple decades."

Continue your journey

The world’s challenges are too complex to tackle alone. Only by working together can we hope to solve them for good. Like you, we want to lead by example. We’ve started our journey to making a positive impact, and we’d love you to join us. So what do you say? That sounds like a good move to us. To find out more about how UBS can help make your family business as impactful as possible, please contact your UBS Financial Advisor.

For more insights, please take a look at our positioning paper.