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Excerpt from Change for Good

Taken from Chapter 3 – Good Citizenship is Good for Business

… Temperatism goes beyond the triple bottom-line of people, planet and profit, which is advocated by sustainable business consultants and the approach currently taken by organizations with an interest in sustainability. The multiple shareholder approach is progress but can still be viewed in the context of a furthering of self-interest that is at the heart of the capitalist system. Marx used the term appropriation to describe the character of organizations pursuing profit-first motives, noting “that capitalists appropriate, or commandeer, the surplus produced by labour and do not remunerate them for it” (Stokes, 2011). Organizations still only implement policies based on the business case, rather than because it is the right thing to do. Today, the majority of organizational commitment to good corporate citizenship is as a result of key factors such as pressure groups, fear of regulation from government, issues with attracting and retaining talent and increased competitive advantage requiring the organization to make themselves more attractive to investors and customers who have a different agenda than black and white return on investment. But what started as something that could be viewed as a cynical attempt by capitalist organizations to avoid interference in the market has extended to a genuine rise in organizations and government bodies attempting to do good and seeing the positive effects of Doing Good on their bottom line.

At the forefront of the current ‘good citizenship’ model is the green business movement. Since government regulation on climate change issues is inevitable, many organizations are preparing themselves ahead of time by changing their business model and integrating ‘green’ business practices into their day-to-day operations. But it is not just the threat of government regulation that is changing organizational behaviour, rather the discovery that Good Citizenship is Good Business. For example,

“FedEx’s new fuel efficient hybrid trucks reduce fuel expenses by more than a third while shrinking smog-causing emissions by two-thirds and nearly eliminating particular emissions, the company reports.” (CQ Researcher, 2010)

The result is more than ‘good PR.’ As well as appealing to customers who may be willing to pay more for ‘friendly’ products such as responsibly sourced fish, sustainable products or organic foods, employee turnover reduces, cost savings and efficiencies are found and innovation and creativity increase. Can organizational performance improve because an organization is purposeful and intent on Doing Good? The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD, 2010) conducted a survey in December 2010 called Shared purpose: The golden thread. It showed that organizations that have purpose achieve better results in both financial measures, such as profitability, and in people measures including improved employee engagement and productivity. Research studies conducted by Gallup () have shown that engaged employees are 18% more productive, 12% more profitable, 60% less likely to leave the organization and take less time off sick; 2.7 days per year versus 6.3 days for disengaged staff. Good Citizenship therefore provides more than a good feeling. Doing Good creates a healthy exchange of benefit for both society and the organization.

“The societal benefits of higher incomes, better health, education, training and employability are matched by corporate benefits such as higher work motivation, higher productivity and lower absenteeism. Investments up to the point where none of the participating subjects (or institutions) can be made better off without another subject being made worse off (in absolute terms) are therefore good management practices.” (Leisinger, 2007)

Many organizations are now working alongside pressure groups such as the Carbon Trust to develop and adopt a robust CSR policy and programme. As well as reducing the impact of the external costs of operations on the wider environment, many organizations are promoting their role in improving the wider society and providing an enhanced employee benefits package that goes well beyond the remuneration that the market would dictate for workers in the industry. The growing concerns caused by globalization and the rise in the use of technology have increased the interest in organizations doing things differently, not just for investors and customers but also for the wider stakeholder community. The transparency created by social media means that the wider global community can now examine every organization in relation to social responsibility. Governments and organizations are more aware than ever of the pressure from ordinary people. This pressure, coupled with the advances in social media, means any ministerial gaff or corporate misdemeanour can spread across the globe in a matter of seconds, doing untold damage to reputations and resulting in significant consequences for the bottom line. Power has begun to shift away from politicians and government regulators, instead reverting to those who use the new information super highways to promote and market their objections to abhorrent business practices. If ever there was a time in history where fundamental change could happen and happen rapidly, it is now. We are no longer reliant on people being in the right place at the right time, or having access to vast reserves of wealth to push for reform. What is it that responsibility does that gives individuals the motivation to stand up and be counted? Are we challenging the system or, by remaining passive, allowing the capitalist system to fool us into believing we can’t make a difference?

Change for Good; Temperatism in pursuit of a people centred ideology – By Carrie Foster is available as an e-book or paperback from all leading book retailers