You may have noticed that I describe myself as a ‘Sociopreneur’ – a portmanteau term highlighting the combination of an entrepreneurial spirit with a focus on making sure that enterprise is inclusive and socially responsible.
It’s important to me that social responsibility is a core characteristic of my work, and I believe that addressing social needs through business is the solution to creating a more equitable and fair society.
The late, former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, once said that “I believe social responsibility begins with a strong, competitive company. Only a healthy enterprise can improve and enrich the lives of people and their communities.”
Welch was right. Having a successful business and being socially responsible are not mutually exclusive. Being successful at work provides us with the opportunities to support more people, to protect more communities, and to enrich more lives.
But it’s important to consider social responsibility as our companies are growing. As business leaders, we should ask ourselves three fundamental questions:
– How does our corporate development impact our employees, customers and communities?
– How can we address social concerns like climate change, poverty and equal rights while developing our businesses?
– How can we use business growth to create long lasting, positive change?
Social responsibility should be at the centre of our business plans, simultaneously serving to help our companies and communities grow alongside each other.
It’s about having the right, positive mindset, and understanding what social needs can be addressed by your business. Through my work in the education sector, I’ve understood how my businesses can foster social change, for example through supporting grassroots initiatives such as donating computer equipment to underfunded schools in developing nations.
My advice is to look at your overall business plan, and to research ways in which your line of work can address social needs. This could be through improving the lives of your employees, the local communities around your premises, or through supporting charitable organisations which are addressing the big issues.
Identify the issues that matter to you and your industry, and make them a cornerstone of your business plan. Through social responsibility, we can foster positive growth for our communities as well as our businesses.