We can get a bit fixated on economic growth. We listen out for figures and share prices, we measure profits and percentages. But one thing’s for certain, the current model of economic growth isn’t working for everyone.
Is it time for a rethink? Is it time to put the interests of people and planet before shareholder gain? I think, in the enduring words of Martin Luther King Jr, that the time is always right to do what is right.
We’re a Community Interest Company (CIC). And that means that the way we behave, the things we create, the people we partner with – all of these have to have a bigger meaning and goal for us than simply profit and growth. We believe in working for a purpose, for a greater good.
So, I was very pleased to be among an incredible group of people recently, looking into alternative economic models that could help us face up to some of the social and environmental challenges we’re experiencing in our world.
This meeting of minds was coordinated by the Social Enterprise Mark CIC. We are very proud to be accredited by this organisation and for me, the gathering was a great chance to hear and talk with people from all sorts of social enterprises.
Many of you will be aware that we used to operate as a government service, but becoming a CIC has kind of liberated us, enabling us to evolve over the last two years and embed our strong sense of purpose into our brand and strategy more effectively.
When we’re looking at what it takes to make work better, our community and how it will benefit is always at the forefront of our minds. That’s why we’re focused on helping larger organisations to unlock and develop people’s potential as part of a long-term endeavour. And yet at the same time, we also want to support the smaller companies and start-ups with less resources to take simple steps in the right direction.
Being a “not-for-profit” social enterprise, doesn’t automatically mean you never make a profit – it’s just that profit isn’t the be-all and end-all. It’s also about reinvesting profit for the benefit of the community. And in our case, that’s led us to develop a free platform called Jumpstart specifically for smaller businesses.
It’s never too soon (or too late for that matter) to start defining the kind of culture you’re aiming for in a workplace, and the direction you want to take. Jumpstart is perfect in that sense, helping you to get going even if you don’t yet have loads of time and resources to dedicate to your people. It’s all about getting started.
Someone asked me, as part of a panel discussion at the event, what is the ‘right’ kind of business sustainability to be aiming for? You know, there are many different layers to consider, but for me as a person, and as a CEO, the answer is simple. It’s people. It’s always people.
People are the answer. Training people, trusting them, developing their skills, empowering them, valuing their work and supporting them to prepare for the future. Get this right and the rest will follow.
By Paul Devoy