On higher purpose and corporate social responsibility 4.0
In the digital age, consumers are increasingly aware that in pursuing business objectives, corporations have a wider responsibility towards society and the environment. Be it not making a difference between employing people with and without disabilities, be it founding an organic supermarket which will become the biggest one in the world one day. By embracing corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporations can align their business’s purpose and goals with their environmental and social values.
Then there’s the widespread phenomenon known as “digital transformation”, meaning an increasing number of people are worried that AI will take their place in the workforce. The dystopian imagery of tomorrow’s workplace is dominated by fear – either of not having a job at all or having to adapt to working conditions that will be changed beyond recognition. Tools such as Agile Work Environment and Design Thinking are being implemented by an increasing number of companies to achieve customer satisfaction in an extremely fast-paced and competitive market.
All these transformations in both corporate practices and company culture require experts, someone who understands the Zeitgeist and can help companies grow within it. This, in turn, creates new jobs dealing with development and change management.
One thing that does not change, however, is the ever-present focus on the customer. And that’s where we get to the point of this post: this is about love. Here’s what’s love got to do with it. Customers are not just evolving in their way of using and experiencing products. They also care about what type of company produces them.
Some have a goal and some have a purpose
The most successful example for a purpose surely is Apple’s corporate “why“, which describes the core of their marketing and the driving force behind their business operations. Apple has shown how a good purpose combined with excellent PR, can make people feel like you enriched their life.
Let’s be honest. There is nothing new about the phenomenons of corporate social responsibility, new work, finding a purpose. Some people even think “purposes are so ’90s”: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/purpose-ist-so-90er-bjoern-waide/
So what is the „purpose“ buzzing all about? It is about love.
We are talking about the higher purposes that drive consumers today. What do consumers care about? An increasing number of them care about company values, for one, because they are aware of how many industrial giants are exploiting their workers and polluting our planet and would like to support companies that reduce their carbon footprint and create value in their local communities.
In other words:
The impact has changed.
We can actually see that a purposeful leading of a business can lead to a better employer branding. The so-called „empathic leaders“ everyone is talking about, they are crucial here because a purposeful leading only works if it is incorporated by the management.
It is crucial for a good CSR strategy, for effective diversity management and most of all for good employer branding.
One of my clients, the entrepreneur Aynur Boldaz, has been managing a successful international inclusive cleaning business for 20 years – up to 40% of her workforce is composed of people with disabilities. Interestingly enough, she didn’t come up with this idea because someone, two decades ago, told her that diversity and inclusion would be something people would care about today. She founded her company with a higher purpose already in mind. And, twenty years later, Germany still doesn’t get it. People seem to think this is the basis to run a non-profit organization, not a business, and struggle to understand how she can be successful and turn a profit using such an unconventional business model.
Outside Germany, the narrative works better and people understand that she is successful precisely because she is running her business according to her personal higher purpose, which she has made into the company’s higher purpose. This is the kind of thing both employees and clients appreciate.
We took part in two conferences, where Aynur Boldaz was asked to deliver a keynote. One in 2014, organized by the Canadian Maytree Foundation.
And one in 2019, the European Conscious Capitalism Conference.
According to the Conscious Capitalism credo, business is good, because it creates value and the higher purpose of conscious capitalism is that businesses should exist for reasons beyond just making a profit.
And this is what Aynur Boldaz delivered on stage:
She was followed by John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods, the creator of the quote I used in this article: What´s love got to do with it? A lot.