Giving Compass' Take:

• B the Change reports on Athleta, the women's apparel brand which is embracing Corporate Responsibility by engaging employees and customers on the values important to them: sustainability, community and women's empowerment.

• How can other companies replicate this model for fostering positive change? Leveraging social media is a big part of Athleta's strategy.

Here's why CR must always be front and center, not an afterthought.

Doing good through business is often seen as a charitable, nice-to-have add-on to a robust business plan. But lately, with news of banks offering cheaper capital to companies that can verify positive impact on society and environment, having a purpose bigger than profit is rapidly being recognized as a must-have. Athleta is one company who has embraced being a force for good as good for business. Athleta’s Chief Financial Officer Chris Samway says the company sees the benefits of having a triple-bottom-line approach, of answering growing consumer demand for business to have positive impact, and of doing so under the auspices of giant Gap Inc.

“From a purely financial perspective, the return on investment (ROI) associated with aligning interests of business with those of society is compelling,” Samway says. “We know the next generation of consumers increasingly cares about brands that stand for something. We hear from our customers that putting people and planet right up there with profit is something that resonates with her.”

And Gap Inc. has embraced the changes  —  both the B Corp certification and the required legal shift to incorporate as a benefit corporation. “That [B Corp certification] is a values issue that our customers are super responsive to. The engagement in that brand is amazing, and that’s what consumers are looking for today. I don’t care if it’s a millennial or a 70-year-old woman. She sees that as a brand that she can relate to from a values standpoint, and it’s a really powerful equation,” Gap CEO Art Peck said in an interview with CNBC.

Read the full article about creating employee champions and customer advocates around your mission at B the Change.