Not long ago the Managing Partner of one of the big four accounting firms said to me that equally as they are assessing accounting graduates and interviewing them to join their firm, so too they are being assessed by those graduates as to where they want to work.
A very common theme in that assessment is what as a company they do in the community.
Last week I was at a business breakfast hosted by Ocean Design all about values in action in medium sized companies ie entrepreneurs who own these businesses and whose money it is.
A few days ago I got an invitation from Russell McVeagh to come and listen to Kate Billing on the topic of Conscious Capitalism.
Among corporates the concept of sustainable value creation, once largely an academic concept described and discussed in long papers has moved to boardrooms. The redirecting of business efforts in a way that both makes money and empowers communities is increasingly seen as fundamental to the role of business.
No longer are matters involving economic effort, either rigidly defined as “business” or “charity”. Charity, as narrowly defined, is asking for a share of resources which of course can be taken away again. Corporate benevolence if you like. The new approach is all part of a virtuous circle and the integration of things that used to be seen as separate.
The thirst for this integrated approach can be seen in Co.OfWomen, the organisation for female entrepreneurs in New Zealand, which has the overriding vision of For Profit and For Good. We are still at the start of this transition.
Barbara and I were inspired by the Emerging Women Conference we went to in San Francisco last year where women clearly expected For Profit and For Good to co-exist. Some of them had business cards with titles that we currently wouldn’t register as “jobs”. One woman was a Financial Midwife, her business was about helping other women give birth to their businesses. One woman was a Corporate Body Movement Coach, helping executives in corporates pioneer new approaches by getting in touch with their bodies. These might sound like strange concepts but once upon a time personal trainers were unheard of let alone life or personal coaches!
If you look at who we consider modern day heroes they do tend to embody both. It is rare now to see business awards given to people whose sole focus is the pursuit of profit without an underlying enrichment of the communities they are part of running alongside this, if not also some additional related philanthropic endeavour in action.
Something is shifting.