The rise of corporate responsibility
There are a number of reasons why the social responsibility of business is becoming increasingly more prominent.
As a start we see the issues of poverty, unemployment and inequality persist despite seemingly well thought out and orchestrated plans and policies to address them.
We see the environment being exponentially degenerated without the requisite reaction to shift this course.
We have the rise of knowledge workers who are neither the automatons of the industrial age, nor the yuppies of the technological age, demanding more from their working environments and the world in which they live.
We have a digital world of global connectivity and media that shows us every day the atrocities that are taking place all over the globe; to the point that even the hardest amongst us should soon start to question how this can be so.
We have religious wars, growing extremism, and the stirrings of revolution in many parts of the world because of people’s discontent with the current systems at play.
And within this we have both internal and external pressures on business; resulting in the evolution of executives who understand that a social license to operate is going to be fundamental to any business moving forward into the next decade. Executives who are being compelled to access their emotional intelligence and systemic thinking capabilities and to use their positions to effect some real change.
But whilst this change is indeed happening, it is not yet sufficiently mainstream to make a substantial enough difference to our broad-scale transformation. And not yet considered of equal importance to shareholders and the much revered bottom-line. Ultimately organizations are starting to realize that being a purposeful, socially responsible entity is essential for strategic long-term positioning but not many really understand and integrate the notion that it is value-creation, not simply financial profit, that is the ultimate beacon of success.
On the face it, our move toward social responsibility is a natural one. Our culture has persisted over the centuries because of our ability to work together. We are by nature social creatures and so as we spiral toward the brink of something quite unknown, there does seem to be an awakening of consciousness on the planet. Small pockets of enlightened thinking that are joining and creating an energy and impetus for change. The system is slowly starting to shift, but we are hesitant, unsure of this new terrain, not clear about where we are trying to get to and how we should chart our course.
The irony is that the market which was designed to enable our social cooperation is the very thing that has promoted our extreme sense of individuality. And now it is time to find a new normal.
We need to free ourselves from the tyranny of the present and to do so we need to change the rules of the game.
So whether it’s Shared Value, Inclusive Growth, Purposeful Business, Authentic Stakeholder Engagement or Corporate Responsibility, the time is now to realize the potential of an integrated approach to value creation; for the sustainability of people, planet and profit in a virtuous circle of progress, transformation and growth.