What Are Positive Business Practices?

Positive business practices provide traceability between what a company values and how it acts.

If a company values wellness, believes that green is good, and dares to be different, then its positive business practices may range from what you might expect, such as providing healthcare coverage for all of its employees; to a more contemporary practice, such as offering socially-responsible investment options in its 401k funds, to a completely avant-garde practice, such as pay-what-you-want-pricing. (Yes, you read that last piece correctly.) When values and actions are connected, companies are better able to strike a chord or resonate with all of the people essential to their success.

The extent of positive business practices are potentially infinite. They are derived from the authentic ways in which a company creates value for others and are unique to its culture, market, and industry. Thinking about how to improve current practices or add new practices is an opportunity to flex creative muscles, and when done well, these practices lead to better business outcomes while building goodwill with your stakeholders.

As for-profit companies of every size and type become more purpose-driven, socially-conscious, and environmentally aware, new services and products are being offered to meet new needs, such as mobile composting services, on-site wellness programs, student loan repayment benefit programs, life coaching services, concierge services, and technology programs to manage employee volunteering. This is in addition to practices that are a result of a company's investment in leadership coaching services, supplementary benefits, charitable giving programs, and sustainability certifications, to name a few.

Whether you develop and implement practices of your own or follow examples from others, positive business practices align to standards* that can be measured along a Quadruple Bottom Line of Purpose, People, Planet, Prosperity. They include:

  • Leading with authenticity
  • Creating an inspired culture
  • Operating with transparency
  • Bringing out the best in your team
  • Valuing inclusion and diversity
  • Being a great community neighbor
  • Making a positive impact on society
  • Spending on local suppliers
  • Reducing environmental impact
  • Using eco-friendly materials
  • Monitoring energy and water usage
  • Profitably reinvesting in purpose

Positive business practices support a fundamental belief that there’s a better way to do business.

Mindset is an essential ingredient for becoming a more positive business. Leaders in successful positive businesses think about what their companies do in terms of how they improve the lives of others or are really useful to them. This means positive business practices don’t have to be fancy or expensive, but they do have to be meaningful.

I work with a client who is passionate about building a culture where all people can learn and grow. As part of that, she employs two gentlemen with autism (a practice aligned with the standard of valuing diversity and inclusion). The men work part-time in the clerical department with the assistance of an aide who supervises their work. Their jobs provide these gentlemen with ample opportunities to develop their social skills. When my client mentioned this arrangement to another business owner, she was asked in a somewhat skeptical tone, “Why do you do that?” My client responded, “Because I believe that someday we’ll ask why we didn’t do it all along.”

That’s the difference that mindset makes. It begins with the decision to do well by doing good based on the notion that “When you succeed, we succeed; when we succeed, you succeed.” And that’s the 21st century way of doing business.


*Many of these standards are central to becoming a certified B Corporation.

About Me, Kelly Stewart: I work with business owners and leaders to help them put a not-just-for-profit mindset into practice. Whether that's improving business relationships, becoming a more socially-conscious business or reducing the company's impact on the environment, it's about knowing where and how to expand the company's positive core while earning profitable returns. Mom to two by birth and two by marriage, I live in Bucks County, PA with my fun and wonderful husband and our four dogs of all sizes and strange habits.

Photo by Sladjana Karvounis on Unsplash