Can business be a force for good? Starting with this question is easier to answer. No matter where a business is in their goodness journey, most can make an argument for business as a force for good. The low-hanging fruit includes jobs, health insurance, and retirement program. Add in customer solutions and partner opportunity – reseller and supplier. Each is a fruit of business.
I believe business can be a force for good. Being a force for good is moving beyond the fundamentals. More needs to happen to rise to this higher level of good.
Millennials and Business as a Force for Good
I am reading through The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017. Within the Deloitte annual survey, interesting insights always surface. In this year’s survey, a mix of concern and optimism stirs. For example:
- Barely 1 in 3 expect economic conditions to improve (statistic for mature markets, emerging market respondents are more optimistic)
- 56 percent of survey respondents show concern with the issues surrounding conflict and political tension
- 53 percent see the workplace becoming more impersonal and less human
- 76 percent regard business as a force for positive social impact
- 62 percent of Millennials consider business leaders committed to helping improve society (a 9-point increase from 2015)
- 65 percent believe businesses behave in an ethical manner
- 4 in 10 think many large businesses support charities or social initiatives for their reputation instead of a genuine desire to change things for the better
From the Deloitte survey highlights, you feel the mix of pessimism, optimism, and skepticism. What arises is hope based on tangible and intangible results and experiences. The Millennial presence in the workplace and leadership positions continues to grow, and soon – if not already – they will be leading organizations and refining corporate cultures.
3 Challenges: Business as a Force for Good
As a business considers their status as a force for good and positive social impact, three key questions come to mind.
1 – Are your leaders a force good?
What type of leaders are present within your company?
Do they get the job done at any cost? Are their opinions the only right ones? Do they know more than the name and position of their team members? Are your leaders a force for good within the company? What community work do your leaders do outside of work?
Are these the right questions to ask? I can fill this whole section with questions, but I will not. The point is our business cannot be a force for good unless we are a force for good within. Inside-Outside alignment is required.
If you want to ratchet it up a notch, each quarter ask your leadership team members: Give me three examples of how you have been a force for good? Don’t accept superficial answers. Go for the good details.
2 – Are you hiring individuals who will be a force for good?
Too often, we focus on hiring for talent first. Character may come in at a close second, but we are trying to fill a role. Whoever we hire, we may find we won the gamble and got both talent and character. Other times, we find we hired only the talent half, so we muddle through. After all, “they do a good job.”
I always felt uncomfortable in giving a hire or no-hire decision after only spending 30 to 45 minutes with someone. Within 30 minutes, we can get a sense for who someone is and what they can contribute. However, senses dissipate with experience of working with someone. The hiring manager spends more time with a candidate, yet companies are realizing hiring practices need to change.
Will they be a force for good? A good question to answer as you interview individuals. Even better, ask them during the interview: Give me three examples of how you have been a force for good.
3 – Is your business a sustaining force for good?
Being a force for good does not preclude financial results. Profit enables a business to hire, retain, grow, and serve within a marketplace. Without this presence, being a force for good evaporates. It is true the other way, too. Being a profitable business does not make it a force for good. A profitable business combined with a richness in contribution to making society better is how one becomes a force for good. Activities include giving to charitable causes, participating in social initiatives, and raising voices when political and economic directions hurt others.
To be a sustaining force for good, define two key paths:
- How your business wants to be a force for good within your employee, customer, and partner community
- How your business will be a force for good in your communities and our larger society
Within each, define tangible actions and vocal points. What will you do, and what will you stand up for?
More than a Millennial Thing: Force for Good
Millennials expect businesses to do more than be a financial success. To retain their loyalty and trust, business leaders need to engage in social issues or social good projects. You can write this off as just a “Millennial thing,” but Millennials are leading now. You could be working for them very soon if you are not already.
Millennials are ready to embrace the next generation, GenZ. Sixty-one percent of Millennials believe GenZ will have a positive impact as their presence in the workplace expands. Millennials are open to accept and guide the next generation of leaders as being a force for good. Are you?
How can we empower more businesses to be a force for good? How will your leadership change?
Join the Conversation
Is Your Business a Force for Good?
I appreciate that when you posed questions to assess “Are your leaders a force for good” you not only suggest that people sit back in judgment but ASK. I know that when I worked inside of organizations, I was often a private person but if asked, I was happy to share my life and commitments outside of work. It’s on up to each of us to get to know our leaders and or organizations.
Great post Jon. You’re right that the world is changing and we need to recognize and adapt to to this new change – even if we see them as trends. Businesses carry more responsibility these days to “do good” from their customers (the majority of them being Millennials). Giving back or helping society is a very good thing and people will take notice.