Page 1 of The Responsible Company by Yvon Choinard and Vincent Stanley.
Happy New Year: Now Let’s Do Better
The responsibility of a business to stakeholders, like its customers, people and communities, and to broader society is not managed in a department or a report. Responsible business is not the work of others. It is not a glossy wash you put over the top of the way you work to make things look better for stakeholders.
The key word is responsibility. Responsibility begins and ends with how you make decisions in your work. That responsibility applies to everyone. Responsibility is not a good intention, a wise donation or a clever offset. Responsibility means owning the need for better decisions and actions that maximise the value that you create and minimise the waste.
If you are not taking into account the wider implications for society and sustainability of your decisions and actions, then you can do better. You can make sure your decisions and actions add more shared value tomorrow than they did today. The decisions will be different for every organisation, but they will make both the business and the society better. That is good business.
Social Responsibility is Here
You will not escape responsibility. Our social world is making business more networked and more social. With that networking comes a great increase in transparency and accountability to your stakeholders. Every day businesses are being questioned on unthinking actions and decisions. If you are not stepping up to better manage your responsibilities, expect someone to be helping you to change. You do not need to become an ideologue or to become a not-for-profit, you just need to believe in people and want to improve. By looking at a broader frame, you can make smarter business decisions that create shared value in society.
Do Better. Start with one step. It is that simple. Find ways to make decisions with better impacts and less waste. Enable your people to help you in this journey of continuous improvement.
Start making yourself aware of the options to do better. Read the Patagonia story and other resources on shared value. Measure the impacts that matter to you and your people. Ask your people to contribute on what matters to them and how you can do better. Make small improvements every day.
Your business will reward you for the new attention. Do something to get yourself started on the path to better business.