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The Latest CEO Metric You Can't Afford to Ignore: Return on Responsibility

Is Return on Responsibility the growth accelerator you've been looking for?

If you're a CEO looking for new opportunities to boost growth, you may already be familiar with 'Return on Responsibility', or RoR.

If not, let's talk about the latest power metric you need to know.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities have long been seen as a way to improve a company's public image, but the question remains whether they make sense from a financial perspective. The academic answer is yes — according to experiments, a company's investment in CSR activities can lead consumers to rate its products more highly.

For those interested in a real-world test, all eyes are on one CEO leading the way in using RoR to drive growth — Ann Mukherjee is the chairwoman and CEO of Pernod Ricard North America, the largest operation at the world's second-biggest producer of wine and spirits.

If you're interested in using Mukherjee's RoR strategy to accelerate growth, here are three key takeaways from her approach:

Make It Personal

Mukherjee has been open about the impact of alcohol abuse on her life, including being a survivor of sexual and domestic abuse and losing her mother to a drunk driver. She has made alcohol responsibility a personal mission and focuses only on issues related to her and her company's purpose of conviviality. By prioritising issues related to their shared purpose, Mukherjee encourages her team to be mindful of how their efforts contribute to the company's success.

"We only go after those issues that drive value, our company values, and our purpose of conviviality," Mukherjee told Time. She describes taking on topics of the moment for publicity as a misguided attempt to mislead customers that will ultimately backfire.

Choose Your Partners Wisely

For Mukherjee, it's not just about saying you'll do something – consumers of trusted brands expect companies to follow through on their commitments. One of the most effective ways to do that is by working with a partner.

By partnering with the US Administration to lead the 2020 shift to use distilling facilities to create hand sanitisers, Pernod Ricard demonstrated its commitment to social responsibility. Even small-scale projects with the right partner can have a significant impact. When Pernod Ricard launched a pilot project to train restaurants and bars to help customers who drink too much, it invested in its reputation as a supplier that shares responsibility for any problems experienced by its partners.

Use Your Hypervisibility

As a C-Suite woman of colour, Mukherjee knows the risks of hypervisibility, where errors are more readily observed and perceived negatively compared to her counterparts. However, she has used scrutiny of her appearance to her advantage by using it to promote causes important to her.

For instance, she painted "Black Lives Matter" on her nails after George Floyd's murder in 2020 and the Ukrainian flag on her nails following Russia's invasion last year. She also painted "sex responsibly" on her nails to support the launch of her first alcohol responsibility campaign. By giving people something positive to talk about, Mukherjee has used hypervisibility to make a difference.

In conclusion, boosting RoR can be an effective growth strategy, and Mukherjee's approach shows how it can be done. By making responsibility personal, choosing partners wisely, and using hypervisibility to your advantage, you can help your company make a positive impact while driving growth.

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