Question: Is it a company’s responsibility to put the interest of society first?
Answer: A big, unmitigated, yes.
As much as the ‘world’ proposes that we are all disconnected individuals that have to fend for ourselves, we all know that we are connected. Whether at a superficial level of trusting people to stay in their own lane or at a profound level of human awareness…we are all in it together.
We are working out what where the digital world is moving us. But the idea of our connectedness has become unavoidable.
What does this have to do with a company’s responsibility to put the interest of society first? Companies are not separate. More than any individual, companies are interwoven in our lives – our communities, our environment, our work, our education – their influence is immense.
Then think about where so much creativity, innovation, ability to solve complex problems, plan and implement huge projects lives –business. When companies become focused on the interest of society, no problem is too big or cannot be solved.
Yes, the idea of trying to use all the measurements of business as indicators for human progress has outlived itself. We know that even if a company is inordinately successful, unless its success enriches our daily lives it fails. This is changing.
There is a tidal wave of recognition happening within business– all too slow for most of us. It began with companies adding ‘benefit to our communities’ tagline –but really not taken seriously — to their vision statements. More and more companies began to realize that they just couldn’t continue to do bad stuff — which started the ‘corporate social responsibility ‘movement. It was a waking up the sleeping giant. The more and more people learned they have a voice, and remember companies are people, they realized they had to and wanted to take responsibility. This introduced the idea of ‘shared value’ – looking at every aspect of a company to determine whether it contributes or destroys our world. This is true social impact; true understanding of a company’s responsibility to put the interest of society first.
I remember the author Paul Hawken saying that the biggest influences for executives to question and stop their companies from polluting are their daughters. This brings it full circle to our basic experience of our connectedness and our fundamental knowing that, yes, a company is responsible to put the interest of society first.
Written by: Bix Bickson, Director of Mojofication