‘I’d be mad if I were running a business for anything other than profit’, said a business partner during a meeting a few days back. The dictionary definition of business might agree with what our partner said, but I beg to differ. Many modern businesses are not just about maximizing shareholder value or calculating ROI (return on investment). Visionaries who run these businesses see beyond the obvious, looking not only at their personal well-being but also at that of the people who work with them and of the community they operate in.
Social consciousness is a trait that defines good organizations. Global decision-makers invest a substantial amount of time, money and resources to undertake activities that have a positive social impact. These include, but are not limited to, charities, rehabilitation programs, and community & vocational training centers. Whereas some people prefer media coverage of their charitable conquests, a select few choose anonymity. During the 2010 floods in Pakistan, I clearly remember the media reporting millions of rupees worth of anonymous donations being received at relief camps. When I hear of such people or organizations, I wonder what motivates them to keep on doing such deeds; the only sane conclusion I can draw is that these people are excelling at the objective of maximizing the wealth that they can share with fellow humans.
Initiatives such as ‘Paperless Offices’ and ‘Clean-up Drives’ try to protect the environment we live in. Several companies adopt these practices with a genuine motivation to keep this world viable for future generations and preserve its natural resources. Whether it is in the form of reducing their carbon footprint (CO2 emissions), improving their recycling processes or encouraging extra-curricular environmental initiatives by employees, such organizations play an integral part in maintaining the ecological balance. Emirates Airlines is one such organization and besides striving hard to improve its ‘environmental performance’, it also supports other non-profit organizations with their environmental projects.
Corporations that wish to survive beyond the average human lifespan think of people as their assets. Therefore, work-life balance is essential when it comes to employee retention, motivation and happiness. You attain work-life balance when you look forward to getting to work in the morning and can’t wait to be back home in the evening. With work-life balance comes a general sense of well-being in employees – something that transcends all monetary benefits. Unfortunately, businesses that measure their success only on the health of their profit-and-loss statements fail to understand the long-term benefits of work-life balance, and more often than not, end up treating their employees like machines.
Organizations have greatly evolved over the past few decades and it is not only ‘the business of business’ that defines these new corporations, but a host of other values too. Naysayers may argue about the true motives of these companies, but having experienced and lived these values firsthand, I’m a firm believer in the genuine goodness of people and their ability to do something good for others.