B the Change

Business as a force for good has really gained momentum. Never has there been a better moment to reshape your business.

Business as a force for good has really gained momentum in the last decade or so. Good example is Foods Market’s John Mackey and business professor Raj Sisodia, who helped popularize conscious capitalism which focused on the idea that conscious businesses balance pursuing profits with higher purposes that serve, align and integrate the interests of all their major stakeholders.

In 2019, the Business Roundtable adopted a new “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation.” The CEOs of many of America’s largest companies signed the statement, declaring that companies should deliver value to all of their stakeholders—which includes not just shareholders but also customers, employees, suppliers and the communities in which they operate. Since then there has been much debate over whether it has been anything more than empty rhetoric. The same happened recently in Rome, where the “New Declaration of Business for Good” was signed, in the presence of the Club of Rome, by hundreds of business leaders and entrepreneurial minds.

“Business as a force for good” was always in the heart of the companies I founded and it’s an important part of my work as a global speaker and business writer answering probing questions about the changing role of business in our society and employee expectations in the workplace. Given all that I’ve been weathering the past years—the global pandemic, societal turmoil and polarization, stress, burnout, staffing shortages and the ongoing “Great Resignation,.”

When it comes to “business as a force for good,” we have reached a tipping point that cannot be dismissed as a momentary response to a crisis or some pollyannaish slogan. An overwhelming majority of business executives, HR leaders and knowledge workers expect their employer and business in general to be a force for good. Indeed, and just-released the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer reports that societal leadership is now a core function of business.

Part of what makes these force-for-good findings so compelling is how broadly aligned employees are relative to these expectations. Most expect business and their employer to be a force for good. Edelman found that “across every single issue, by a huge margin, people want more business engagement, not less.” And a McKinsey & Company survey found that a great majority believe purpose should receive more weight than profit.

What exactly do we mean by business as a force for good? I believe that businesses which are a force for good has three dimensions: They want to be a force for good for their employees as a professional and person, by actively investing in their well-being, reflecting their values and helping them flourish in mind, body and meaningful impact. The second dimension is to be a force for good for the organization, by creating and sustaining an inclusive workplace culture. And finally the third dimension, to be a force for good for all other stakeholders. Including the planet and society and of course the shareholders. By stepping up and showing that you care, encouraging dialogue, speaking out and making a true social, ecological and economic impact through conscious leadership. Solving the big societal en environmental issues, instead of making them worse.

Don’t get me wrong. The last thing I want in discussing business as a force for good is for people to think that I stand for business not being good at business. I believe in building impactful organizations where the business, the people and the planet thrive. If you ask me which is more important—the business, people or the planet—my answers always: “Can we build a sustainable and regenerative economy with stressful people on a unhealthy planet?. You cannot have a thriving business without thriving people. And you can’t have thriving people without a healthy planet.

The good news is that what people want and expect is largely aligned to what is essential for businesses to thrive, and the opportunity, to create deeper and more mutually aligned relationships. Therefor we must reconnect with nature, each other and self, the profound purpose. In an environment where the pervasive narrative is telling us there is so little we agree on, the compelling mandate that business should serve as a force for good is incredibly promising.

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