Going Beyond Corporate Profits

A new and emerging breed of global Chief Executives is ushering in a populist sentiment that speaks to the mission statements of today’s 21st Century corporations:

The very best companies care about more than just profits.

At a time when so many organisations are focused on measuring everything and making the most of big data to drive financial decisions, some are questioning whether this laser focus on financial results is really in the best long-term interests of shareholders, employers and others.

One question asked increasingly by individuals ranging from activist shareholders and governance reformers to jobseekers and vendor is this: Aside from making a profit, what good does your company want to do in the world?

The notion of “betterment” – the betterment of communities, the environment and individual lives not directly connected to the corporation’s daily affairs – is one that is catching fire around the world because of how it speaks to leaders’ desire to do good and make money.

Managers were always taught to strive to outperform their competitors. You did that with better products, better services and better people.

Today’s leaders, however, are being called to a higher standard. Not only do customers and employees want superior products and a talented, diverse workforce, but they want to know their individual work is contributing in some way to a greater good.

This means that the corporate mission statement is as big a recruitment tool as anything. What you say about your organisation’s goals, how you intend to achieve them, and the good you’ll commit to doing along the path to profits matter more than ever in a world where so many people are asking “Why?” when it comes to business affairs.

Our motivation to lead and to serve others is being called into question every day. This alone should lead us to serious reflection on how we – and our companies – will leave the world in a better place or, if that seems too broad and lofty a business goal, how we’ll help make it better than we found.

If all of this sounds too soft, you’re right. But make no mistake. It’s also very serious dialogue with profound implications.

Just consider questions like these: Should a company add jobs during tough economic times simply to provide work for people in struggling communities? Should a company make commitments to preserve our environment? And should leaders be accountable for something more than corporate profit making?

You may not have immediate answers, but just considering the kind of questions that stretch your thinking beyond the straight line to profits will help you find the answers and your way of making the world a little better than you found it.

Copyright © TRANSEARCH International 2015


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