When I first came into business, during the early 1980’s, my main objective was simply to make profits. As time and I have progressed businesses have become more concerned with their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), meaning that they take more (possibly equal account) of the impact they have on their stakeholders and on the ecology.
Their stakeholders include, naturally the business owners, their staff, customers and indeed anybody who is impacted on by their corporate activities – in fact all people. The ecology is of course the planet.
The accountant in me gets excited when I hear this new approach describe as the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ focusing on the three P’s of:
- Profit (generating not just financial capital but social capital too)
- People (being how we work with and encourage our community)
- Planet (how this generation gets its needs met without compromising the meeting of the needs of the future)
In response, what now seems to be unfolding in the business world (that is distinct from the state activities of ‘Big Government’ and philanthropic work of ‘Charities’) are a split two forms of Enterprise:
- Commercial Enterprise, the traditional organisations created out of self-focused desire for private gain and
- Social Enterprise, created out of a collective desire to create social value in a purposeful way.
To be clear, the ‘selfish-gene’ commercial profit maximising approach is as an innately human trait as the willingness to co-operate and be in community, and whilst the two perspectives need not be in conflict, there is and will likely continue to be a tension between them.
Commercial Enterprises want maximum profits, but need the goodwill of people to create it. Social Enterprises want to create social value, but need profits to pay for it. It is simply a question of the degree to which each enterprises focuses its mission on.
Both resonate with me and my associates (Just Clarity Group) and our mantra and program that we run, that ‘People & Business Matters’, a Social Enterprise program.
Our collective ambition is not to compete with Commercial Enterprise by being cheaper because we are volunteers and have a low cost base. Nor do we wish to take resources, like good staff or grants from commercial enterprises. What we aim to do is focus on solving a social need and then making available good, value for money resources to our local Commercial Enterprises for further social value creation.
We do this by coaching, mentoring, training and developing those in our local community who might feel marginalised or challenged in finding work, building a career or starting a business. Our goal is to provide local employers with good quality employees. In the process of doing that we re-invest surplus profits back into our programs. In our efforts we able to give, simply for the sake of giving.
We feel that that is a ‘Win-Win-Win’.