It is almost an impossible task to change business behavior when there is a set (and successful, if I may add) way in which we have been operating for a very very long time. Most of us are not naturally altruistic people: we think about improving the self, be it personal or organizational before we think of the larger society. The spirit of self-preservation has become a habit, ingrained into us over the years.
Abundant and inexpensive energy has enabled the world to grow sevenfold in just two hundred years. Cheap oil fuelled the Industrial Revolution and the information revolution; it provided the inputs for the Green Revolution. All of these developments helped increase standards of health and living. However, the growth in demand for energy is increasing and the world and its’ businesses are waking up to the realization, that shortages of energy and its’ resulting price increases may make it impossible for economic growth to continue.
It is also true that in the last decade or so, the world has become a different place to do business. Globalization has integrated the world and technology has bridged distances. And what we do in a small business, in a small nook, in the corner of one country has a fairly significant impact on some other part of the country or event in the globe. How an employee in one location is treated is heard faster by her counterpart in another location than herboss who might be sitting a desk away from her. Or how a cotton crop produced in a location in Thailand has impact on the sales of a garment produced with that cotton in Germany.
And because of this it becomes imperative for businesses to be seen not just as socially relevant, but also BE socially relevant and be a part of the change. It is that self-preservation that will drive businesses to bring about a change in their business models – to do social good not because it is nice to, but because they cannot survive anymore if they don’t.