“I very much like the new focus of the AIM Ramon V. del Rosario, Sr. Center for Corporate Responsibility (AIM RVR Center) on ‘Enterprise for Society.’ For too long, business schools across the world have been dominated by the false and dangerous Milton Friedman notion that businesses exist to make a profit. Actually, they make a profit in order to exist – but they exist for a higher purpose. What that higher purpose is, is for each business to decide for itself; but personally, I like the idea of an enterprise for society. To be absolutely clear, enterprises should produce decent returns for their owners – but in today’s resource-constrained, globally-connected economy, the superior route to optimising returns over the medium to long-term is definitely through being an enterprise for society.”
“I agree that being an enterprise for society starts with treating your employees fairly – or better still, treating them well. There are some obvious elements to that: fair rewards; providing a safe and healthy workplace; respecting diversity and promoting inclusion irrespective of gender, race or ethnic background, disability, age, sexual orientation and so on; empowering employees through appropriate training and then giving them discretion to take the initiative and be innovative and intrapreneurial. I have written a book about Social Intrapreneurism, called Social Intrapreneurism and All that Jazz.
“One of the new frontiers in being a responsible employer is health and well-being, tackling workplace stress and mental ill-health – and linked to that is being a good employer for employees who are juggling their job and caring for a loved one – typically a parent or other elderly relative or a partner or son/daughter with a disability. Caring for those we love is fundamental to what it is to be human. It is part of the rhythm of life for most of us. Nevertheless, caring whilst working can be a cause of social isolation, mental ill-health and stress. An enterprise for society will try and help their working care-givers, providing access to advice and information, flexible work options, emergency leave and perhaps an in-house Carers’ Network. My most recent book: “Take Care: How to be a great employer for working carers” looks at how leading employers across the world are providing help for their working carers.
“As the AIM RVR Center is clear, however, being an Enterprise for Society doesn’t stop with being a good employer. Crucially, it also involves extending its own responsible and sustainable business practices through its supply chain. This is not just about setting requirements in tender documents and auditing suppliers; but also means sharing good practice, capacity-building and may even extend to provide loan finance for essential CAPEX to bring a supplier’s standards up to specification. Enterprises for Society engage their suppliers in their ambitious sustainability plans. The best Enterprises for Society recognise they also have to speak out and speak up for public policy changes and changes in the attitudes and behaviour of society, towards sustainable development. This is what leadership in corporate sustainability now involves – and that is the theme of my next book: co-authored with Chris Coulter from GlobeScan and Mark Lee from SustainAbility. This next book is called: “All In: The future of business leadership.” It will be published at the beginning of June and I am hoping that I will be able to give a bit of a preview to the book, at the Asian Forum for Enterprise in Society in Manila. I talked about some of the global context for the greater expectations now on business that we saw across the world, at another conference a few months ago.
As always, I am very much looking forward to the debate and the dialogue with colleagues from across Asia.”
Follow David on Twitter: @DavidGrayson_