Is your business a force for good?

Ruth Stuart, Lead Consultant – Strategic Projects, CIPD

The recent VW scandal has brought into sharp focus the need for businesses to think beyond short-term profit gains – to consider the implications of their actions on wider society and the long-term consequences of seemingly small actions. In essence, it highlights the reciprocal nature of value creation – that thinking through the impact of your decisions for individuals, businesses, economies and society ultimately creates more value in the long-term. And conversely ignoring this connection can have disastrous consequences for profitability.

I recently attended a ‘Blueprint for Better Business’ event concerning trust and integrity in the global economy. During the evening Charles Wookey (CEO – Blueprint for Better Business) shared the thinking behind the Blueprint initiative, and Laura Turkington (Senior Sustainability Manager– Vodafone Group) explained how her organisation had translated the blueprint in practice.

The central idea behind Blueprint is that business can and should be a force for good, and that companies should ‘operate to a purpose that respects people and contributes to a better society, thereby delivering long-term sustainable performance’. The challenging business environment makes this aim more important than ever and in this context HR professionals have a fundamental role to play in encouraging better business practice that benefits all.

To this end the Blueprint initiative provides some interesting ideas to consider, and suggests that companies start with five basic principles:

  •  Has a purpose which delivers long-term sustainable performance
  •  Honest and fair with customers and suppliers
  •  A good citizen
  •  A responsible and responsive employer
  •  A guardian for future generations

The Blueprint work and principles-based approach really resonate with the CIPD’s purpose - to champion better work and working lives by improving practices in people and organisation development for the benefit of individuals, businesses, economies and society. Through our Profession for the Future strategy we’re working to ensure that we continue to fulfil our purpose as the world of work evolves. Our work starts with collaborating with a wider range of stakeholders within and outside HR to define and test a new set of principles that will help HR professionals make better decisions and advise business leaders what to do, no matter what the context and no matter what the future may hold.

Should business be a force for good? Can considering multiple stakeholder groups create more value for all in the long-term?

Let us know what you think in the comments below or join the debate online using #changingHR

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  • Hi Ruth, great blog, thanks for sharing.

    We too have just published a piece of research, it's entitled "Seven habits of highly Successful Training Providers". In it we identify the golden thread of winning habits that run through all high-performing training providers.

    Interestingly, those organisations that focus on a "win-win" for both parties are the ones that go on to be most successful. You can download the eBook here if it's of interest;

    It's the same in Sales when trying to position yourself as a trusted advisor to an organisation. Sometimes you need to provide solutions and advice, even if they do lead directly to a sale. I also wrote a blog post on this here;

    Hope some of that further reading is of interest, thanks again for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    Hello Ruth

    I attended the event too, I agree I was very thought provoking. Two things that struck a chord with me were (HR perspective) -People seek meaning and fulfilment in their work so a narrow view of reward will not support 'bringing one's whole self to work' and (Consultant perspective) -The Blueprint process 'does not take any money, nor does it give anything').