06 Mar Business as a force for good – more than just words?
It’s seems to have been coming for some time. A time when businesses are more than just about making profit. A time when businesses exist to provide a service or product that enrich the lives of it’s customers, provide and care for its people (employees), looks after its community and have a positive effect on the environment.
Momentum has been building in recent years. Purpose (why organisations’ and people exist) is being discussed openly; no doubt driven by the work done by people like Jim Stengel and Simon Sinek. In his book Grow (http://www.jimstengel.com/grow/overview/), Jim Stengel found that there was a clear link between companies with a clear purpose and success. Simon Sinek’s work on Start with Why (https://startwithwhy.com) and the Golden Circle has also made its way into boardroom conversation.
Organisations that are serious about doing ‘business as a force for good’ are now able to demonstrate their credentials by joining communities such as the Responsible 100 – a management tool to help an organisation improve its responsibility performance to benefit itself and wider society (https://www.responsible100.com) and B Corporations – for-profit companies meeting high standard in social, and environmental performance, accountability and transparency (https://www.bcorporation.net/what-are-b-corps). 2100 companies across 50 countries have signed up as B corps. And to prove purpose and profit go hand in hand B Corp companies, in the UK, have seen an average 14% growth in the last 12 months – 28 times faster than UK GDP.
Millennials are forcing the issue from the ground up. They are not longer prepared to work just for money. They want to know that company they work for, stand for something; good values and a strong moral compass. I heard recently about how a well-known Management Consultancy is struggling to hold on to its staff long enough to fill senior positions despite paying handsome salaries. We know why!
Even the very tip of capitalism in Investment Management seem to be seeing the benefits. In January, this year, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink sent a letter to CEOs of public companies telling them that their responsibility is not only to deliver profits, but also to make “a positive contribution to society.”s
A shining example of a company that is using business as a force for good, is COOK. COOK is a purpose driven company that not only talks about doing good, it delivers. It’s a founding member of B Corp in the UK, it cares for the environment, it supports its community, and looks after its people. It just so happens to make remarkably good frozen food, too.
It feels like we are at a tipping point, but my god it’s been a struggle. Why has it taken so long? It comes down to a change in belief systems; a paradigm shift. The old, firmly embedded belief was ‘profit comes from doing hard business’ – where society and the environment are irrelevant and employees are a necessary expense’. That’s a long way to the new belief of ‘profit comes from doing good business’ – where purpose, caring about society, the environment and your people are central to success.
I’m proud to be apart of COOK’s journey by supporting their employees to live their dreams in the award winning Dream Academy. A win-win initiative that builds emotional connections between the company and its people that will stand the test of time.