Positive Business Project

January 2019 update:
After a five-year run, we are dedicating 2019 as a reflection year to reimagine how the Positive Business Project can help us all build a better world of work. This website will remain active as an archive of past projects and to give a home to the Positive Practices Handbook. Thank you for your continued effort in building more positive businesses and we look forward to connecting with you soon!


Has your organization created positive change? Does your organization create meaningful jobs and value for all stakeholders? A great workplace? Does your organization bring out the best in its people in terms of their performance and their humanity? Has your organization been a great neighbor to the community and environment? Does your organization address important societal and environmental issues, needs, and opportunities?

If you have answered YES to any of these questions, then the Michigan Ross Center for Positive Organizations invites your organization to participate in the 2018 Positive Business Project!

What is the Positive Business Project?

The Positive Business Project (PBP) is an annual student-led initiative presented by the Michigan Ross Center for Positive Organizations aimed at identifying, studying, celebrating, and spreading positive business in organizations of all types.

Each year, submissions to the PBP are reviewed by a panel of students, Ross professors, and business leaders affiliated with the Center for Positive Organizations. Outstanding submissions are recognized at the annual Positive Business Conference, held in early May at the Ross School of Business.

The PBP helps to grow an impressive network of individuals and organizations committed to positive business, generating more awareness of the field and connecting those who practice it every day. Past awardees and current awardees are able to connect each year at the Positive Business Conference to support and continue to grow this community.

What is positive business?

At Michigan Ross, we believe business has the potential to be a force for positive change in the world. We break down the act of initiating positive change into three buckets, with an eye towards organizational practices that promote: environmental stewardship, community stewardship, and employee empowerment. In further detail:

    • Environmental Stewardship: Businesses have a fundamental obligation to protect the environment. Demonstrating environmental stewardship means demonstrating dedication to being a good environmental partner through innovative practice. Environmental stewardship must be integrated into the core operations of your organization.
    • Community Stewardship: A business is not just an isolated entity. Being a good community partner means engaging the communities in which your organization operates in meaningful ways. These business practices make the business a good neighbor to stakeholders not just within the organization, but within the community and world at large.
  • Employee Empowerment: Practices should represent a flourishing work environment, one in which employees feel empowered to speak up and bring their whole, individual selves to work each day. These practices make the job meaningful for employees, honor diversity, and demonstrate inclusivity toward everyone in the workplace regardless of gender, race, class, etc.

We ground our understanding of positive change in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.All submissions should reflect at least one of the three descriptors of positive business. Organizations can achieve one or more of these goals by implementing positive practices.

What are positive practices?

Positive practices are ways of getting work done that advance core business objectives while achieving other worthwhile goals such as building great workplaces, helping the community, or helping the environment.

Here are a few examples of organizations practicing positive business:
  • Environmental Stewardship: Whole Foods Market is providing access to healthy food options to Detroit residents. This is good for business because it broadens the customer base, and good for the local community through job creation and through the provision of healthy local food options.
  • Community Stewardship: Cascade Engineering, a plastic injection molding company, makes a point to hire returning citizens and engage in stimulating the local economy through their Welfare-to-Career program.
  • Employee Empowerment: KPMG undertook an initiative to identify 10,000 stories from their employees drawing deep meaning and purpose from their work. Research shows that connecting to purpose is a powerful way to build great workplaces, and increase engagement and performance.

What is the Center for Positive Organizations?

The Michigan Ross Center for Positive Organizations brings world-class transformational research to students and leaders through articles, books, events, tools, teaching, and organizational partnerships. We are the leading research hub focused on the leadership, strategies, systems, culture, and practices of high-performing organizations that enable people to be their best selves in the workplace.