Developing Communities with Businesses - A Parallel Universe
In social circles, it is often quoted that “No man is an island”. Written by the 17th-century English poet, John Donne, the line perfectly encapsulates the idea of one’s existence in the world in relation to isolationism. Donne draws a comparison between people and countries and the need to remain connected.
In social circles, it is often quoted that “No man is an island”. Written by the 17th-century English poet, John Donne, the line perfectly encapsulates the idea of one’s existence in the world in relation to isolationism. Donne draws a comparison between people and countries and the need to remain connected. Should we pause for a while and consider if Donne’s thoughts can be extended to businesses in today’s era? Clearly, no business is an island as organizations do not exist in seclusion and they can’t. They are part of a larger community, and when an organization engages with the community, it builds a collaborative environment. And it is through these collaborative efforts that an organization can achieve its social, economic and environmental goals.
For a business to thrive in its operating environment, it is imperative to adopt a sustainable approach that would enable the organization to achieve long-term goals. The world’s leading thinkers have often asserted that nurturing a strong business and building a better tomorrow are not conflicting goals but the essential elements of long-term success. All it takes is a steady commitment to sustainability – one that reflects in the overarching corporate philosophy and the organizational culture.
Fostering an Inclusive Business Ecosystem
People, Planet and Profit. Coined by John Elkington, author of Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, the 3 P’s embody the concept of corporate social responsibility. Put simply, an organization’s purpose in society does not just revolve around profit. While profit drives an organization’s business activities, a purpose beyond profit enriches its image. When a company provides real benefits to its employees as well as to the environment within which it functions, it not just strikes a chord with the community at large, but also fosters an inclusive business ecosystem.
“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your calling.” - Aristotle
Any reference to corporate social responsibility is incomplete without reference to the idea of accountability. Web 2.0 and the rise of digital media have added a new dimension to the concept – that of accountability being a global, and not a local phenomenon. This means organizations are no longer accountable to the society only for their activities, but also for those of their suppliers, partners and all others who make up the business environment. When companies implement their corporate social responsibility successfully, the result is positive changes in the socio-economic environment.
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With today's users becoming much more aware and conscious, they tend to choose brands with ideals synonymous with their own. Similar beliefs attract today's customers to brands rather than the product itself. Everyone affected by the brand should feel that the purpose is personally relevant and emotionally important, that it embodies an ideal they stand for, and that they want to be part of fulfilling that promise, whatever their role. Brand appeal is creating a niche in a segment of people by appealing to their preferences. That comes when a company engages with them on a long-term basis by being part of the community and building an identity. It is all about making a difference to the world by carrying out our daily business activities against a backdrop of CSR initiatives. The task may seem difficult and many a times next to impossible. Nevertheless, if the CSR objective is driven from the top, it will trickle down to the bottom and ensure profit-making activities are backed by a solid purpose.
Today, some of the pertinent questions we need to ponder over are: Where are we today? Where are we going in relation to who we are and the world around us? How do we connect to our deepest possibility of creating meaning and achieving optimum business potential?
Once a company incorporates a high level of purpose to its vision, it will be able to drive its stakeholders to actively contribute to its growth. This sense of purpose, as long as it is genuinely integrated into the company, can help the company grow faster, manage environment risks better and maximize its profitability in the long term.
By Kazutada Kobayashi, President & CEO, Canon India
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