Today’s Organizations Do Well By Doing Good

Corporations are part of communities and must build and maintain trust while helping stakeholders, not just shareholders, says Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce. “If you put growth above trust, then all of a sudden you create a toxic culture.”

I think the word that describe that is “DUH”

These times are a new day. Our customers are changing and more demanding, not only in product innovation but they want to do business with companies that are ethical and are trying to do the right thing whether it be the climate, sustainability or ethics. They are watching and that is the filter they are using. A few tech companies recently have challenged immigration policy in the US because their internal customers – their employees — did not want to be part of a company that didn’t speak out against a policy they vehemently didn’t like.

If you think for minute that it was part of an anomaly or outlier, you are sadly mistaken. This is the new workforce. Organizations cannot get by just on financial results alone. The new dynamic is: “What are you contributing to society as a whole?” I once read a quote that no one gets up in the morning excited about a P & L.

Your internal customer cares

Our internal customers (your workforce) are also using the same filter as our external ones. So if you are concerned about the customer experience, you must also be laser focused on your employee experience. Imagine for a second that your external customers’ feedback was, as a whole, negative. There would be wholesale hand wringing; How do we turn this around? What is going to be our approach to address this business challenge?

Even now, though, in many organizations the employee experience is taken as a wink-wink. This is going to have to change. Somewhere along the line organizations will have to realize both are important. We have to address both with equal importance. Both are critical to our success. We must attend to both with equal fierceness because with a dual approach we can have a win-win. A positive employee experience will lead to a positive customer experience.

One plus one equals success

Organizations must realize that both those approaches are symbiotic. They are joined at the hip and as one goes so goes the other.

If you wonder why specifically the customer experience is tanking, root cause is with the employee experience. If your employee experience is trending downward, then your customer experience is in the queue to trend downward, too.

Fortune Magazine has an annual Change the World list recognizing companies that make a positive social impact through activities that are part of their core business strategy. This type award to me is monumental because it shows the shift in corporate thinking: A new breed of leaders are putting their best foot forward demonstrating that their companies won’t sit idly by thinking societal problems are someone else’s concern.

Connecting to society

Many companies are putting more resources into philanthropic work, and for good reason. Along with the warm feelings associated with altruism, business leaders contributing to the social good recognize the benefits philanthropy provide for a company.

Employees who believe in their organization’s mission and projects will invest more into their work and have a more positive attitude toward their employer. By setting up philanthropic projects in which employees can participate, it inspires workers and builds passion among them. An inspired employee is often more productive than an unfulfilled one.

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“As a CEO, it’s all about building a great culture; a great organization, so it starts with sharing and effectively communicating your vision and aligning employees behind that mission,” says Albert Gjonbalaj, CEO of UA Builders Group. “We are a mission driven company and that works out nicely with millennials who want something more than just a job; they want a purpose. So, our challenge, in taking this organization to its next level, is to attract better and more engaged people who are mission focused, talented, resourceful and driven to a purpose.”

Great words from a true leader. What is more important is that it sure as hell beats the cliché, “People are our greatest asset.”

Connect to society in a meaningful way and the result in social currency will surpass that P&L statement.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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