The goal for any business is, essentially, to make money. And this is generally the key motivator for anyone who is about to start their own company.
The world of business is responsible for our life as we know it.
But what often becomes overshadowed and many people overlook is the influence that business has on our world. It has an impact and effect on all aspects of our existence. From the device you are using to view this article, to the time and experience I am using to write it. From the water we drink, to the clothes we wear – it’s all possible because of design, engineering, technology, production, retail companies, transport, service and logistics companies. It’s not so much that money makes the world go around – it’s business.
So, since business is the primary vehicle responsible for shaping our world, its potential purpose goes far beyond simply generating profits for its owners or shareholders. It has far greater power.
Going beyond social responsibility
Indeed, business has the ability to cure the world of its problems – whether they are social, moral or environmental. So, why is the world still in the state it is in? Why are there still millions of people experiencing poverty? Why are thousands of people dying daily as a result of war? With the knowledge that we have why is disease and ill health so widespread?
A socially conscious business owner with the right intention has the ability to make a far greater impact on this world.
This is not to say that people don’t care. Many companies are committed to corporate social responsibility. But how effective is it in practice? Having a written policy statement of their intention to help the local community, the environment or the planet is all very well. But is it merely that lip-service is being paid to this commitment, or is it truly enacted? How far do business owners and entrepreneurs practice what they preach – if they even preach this? Signing petitions, doing charity runs or making donations are all great, but there is more.
New school of business
Unfortunately, it’s actually poor business methods practiced with ill intent that have caused many of the world’s problems in the first place.
Ambition and competitiveness have long been touted as highly aspirational attributes and positive qualities for high achievers and successful companies. But this drive gives rise to the concept of ‘every man for himself’ – or ‘selfishness’ – and ‘winner takes all.’ Rather than a community of caring and co-operation, we have a society that puts profits above people. One that divides society with an ever-widening difference between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.
If business has basically created this world – think what it could do to resolve its problems! Only through our businesses – with the right people at the helms – can we reverse these wrongdoings and put right the things that greed has made wrong.
A new school of business thinking must be taught. One that takes ROI, yields and profits into account – but not as the primary drivers of business success. A new direction must be taken for business in developing a better world, in terms of morality, ethics, and compassion. Delivered in the right way, a socially conscious business will also increase profits and revenue by the very act of attracting and retaining customers who respect and value its commitment to a better world.
Make an impact
Already, we are seeing a shift in human consciousness that has moved consumers towards brands that reflect their own moral values. Whether it’s because they tread lightly on the earth, reducing their carbon footprint or using environmentally friendly ingredients. Or whether they provide charitable donations, volunteer their staff and resources and perform other acts of philanthropy.
I’d like to make a call to arms to other businesses and to educational institutions teaching entrepreneurs and business owners of the future.
I’d like to call on individual business owners and leaders to think more about their business’s social responsibility, in its widest, most ambitious terms. What if you made social responsibility your main goal?
Don’t let this be is an add-on or afterthought in your company. Aim to make the world a better place on a daily basis. Whether you choose to make the world of your office a friendlier, happy environment, or whether you choose to use your role, products and services to create a world that addresses global issues like poverty, hunger, unemployment, illness or ignorance. Let your morals, ethics and compassion drive your business.
Companies are currently valued according to their share price – but I envision a world in which brands will be valued for the positive impact they make on the world.