Part 1. Giving Back to Society

You may have heard the adage “There is no business in a society that fails.” Over these four blogs, I explore the antithesis of this statement framed as a profoundly important question “What is the role of business in a society that SUCCEEDS?”

At RICSI, we believe that business in general, and business education in particular, can play a transformational role in addressing the greatest challenges of our time as defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We envision myriad possibilities opening up for humanity and business when we ground ourselves in a vision of a future where both society and businesses are flourishing; simultaneously taking care of people and the planet, all while prospering economically. READ MORE.

Part 2. Aligning Profit and Purpose

Aligning Profit and Purpose: “When a firm’s clarity and conviction about their organizational purpose drives choices that result in both financial and societal success.”

Corporations have tremendous untapped potential to help solve societal problems. A key lever to tap into this potential is the ability to frame issues not just as social problems but as business opportunities to enhance revenue and profitability. As leading companies can attest, making money and being a purpose-driven company are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, by aligning a company’s strategy and operations to benefit financially from the fulfillment of a higher purpose, social problems can become the raison d’etre for the company, and over time, be part and parcel of its core business strategies and operations. This can create a virtuous cycle where societal impact begets financial success, as companies use their profits to innovate and scale in fulfillment of their higher purpose. READ MORE.

Part 3. Engaging in Responsible Business Practices: Driving Systemic Change at Scale

Engaging in Responsible Business Practices: when firms manage their activities with accountability for positive impact for all stakeholders

Given the enormity of the ‘wicked problems’ facing humanity today, many companies, governments, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education are stepping up to the challenges in well-intended but often ineffectual ways. One thing that has become apparent is that the old business models where maximizing shareholder wealth is the main or only thing that matters are no longer tenable. In its place we have new business models emerging, including: Stakeholder Capitalism, Environmental/Social/Governance (ESG); a strong emphasis on Social Justice, including the need to pay a living wage; and an approach to business that deeply embeds Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in its values and all its business policies and practices. READ MORE.

Part 4. Advocating for Social Issues: Galvanizing Corporate Social Activism for a Better Future

Advocacy on Social Issues: when a firm engages appropriately on policy, government, and social issues

We may be at a watershed moment as more and more corporate CEOs like Tim Cook of Apple, Marc Benioff of Salesforce, and Brian Moynihan of Bank of America take public stands on a wide range of issues, including ones that go well beyond business. As Moynihan told the Wall St. Journal, “Our jobs as CEOs now include driving what we think is right.” And as Benioff said in Time, “Today CEOs need to stand up not just for their shareholders, but their employees, their customers, their partners, the community, the environment, schools, everybody.”

In the past year, we have witnessed a tremendous outpouring of heartfelt corporate activism in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the resulting Black Lives Matter movement. We have seen vociferous reactions to efforts to restrict voting rights and LGBTQ rights in the United States, and passionate responses (on both sides) to immigration reform, initiatives to support gun control, mitigate climate change, and decriminalize marijuana, to name a few. There is also a growing generational divide, with Millennials and Gen Z tending to be more concerned about the social impact of their employers. The younger generation is much more willing than their elders to express their concerns not only through words but also through their decisions about who they want to work for, and even whose products they want to purchase. READ MORE.