Having a social conscience is something that we’ll often look for in the people with whom we spend our time. It’s something that many employers hold in high regard when assessing prospective employees, and the same can be said, more and more, for job seekers who are looking for those attributes in corporate cultures. Companies which ‘join the dots’ between social issues and business solutions are increasingly held up as market leaders. We’re moving toward a time when leadership will mean possessing the willingness and ability to balance bottom line motivators with the need to do good for society at large.
A corporate social conscience is a key consideration for millennials, who are emerging as a substantial, significant portion of the workforce, as well as the voting populace, often referred to as the generation set to change the world. Destined to make up the next wave of business leaders, theirs is a generation forging a path of social justice that will eventually become the rule, rather than the exception.
The corporate world has seen this coming, and is doing something about it. Microsoft, the most valuable publicly traded company in the world, has launched the programs Tech for Good (which focuses on providing software donations and cash grants to non-profit organizations) and YouthSpark (aiming to create computer science education, employment, and entrepreneurship opportunities for 300 million of the world’s youth). The broader corporate world will, and has taken note of this and is following suit.
As this generation continues to expand, learn and grow, companies will become more focused on proving their global corporate citizenships, with a social justice thread woven into the capitalist fabric.
This is a trend already taking shape in Australia. At my management consulting and specialist recruitment firm, Reo Group I recently launched Reo’s corporate and social responsibility campaign ‘Elevate a Nation’. Within this program, every time Reo Group places a candidate, we give 50 days’ technology education to children in remote Australian communities.
Started when I discovered only 24% of children in remote Australian communities have access to a school that goes to Year 10, ‘Elevate a Nation’ is the product of both my vision, and my call to action. In corporate Australia, specifically within the industries with whom Reo Group partners, having a high school education and an undergraduate degree is a mandatory consideration for a corporate job placement. In the absence of proper infrastructure, children in remote communities with no access to a school, are stripped of this opportunity.
We want to make a real impact on the world, and we know we have the vision and power to extend further than what we are currently doing as a community.
Reo Group’s ambition is that by the year 2021, 50,000 days’ worth of education will have been provided to underprivileged children in Australia.
There’s more to initiatives like this than the more cynical in society may presume. Admittedly, many corporations donate to charities or have benevolent funds as part of their outward-facing corporate goodwill strategy; but more is the case these days that the process of giving, or having some measure of social conscience becomes a whole-company initiative. This is a foundation principle for Reo Group, who have embraced the idea of ‘business for good’ and have reaped practical rewards from it: one of my staff recently passed on a highly sought-after graduate role at CBA in favour of joining Reo Group because of the ‘Elevate A Nation’ campaign. The simple fact is that we are recruiting and retaining a better class of employee based on the fact that we actively do good for society at large. Prospective staff see this, appreciate it, and gravitate towards it.
The lesson to be learnt here is that corporate responsibility of this nature is rapidly emerging as a key recruitment tool for a generation inspired by a desire to bring about large-scale change. Your employees will feel empowered to perform well, knowing that their deeply held notions of social justice are shared with their employers. A company is more likely to retain and build their human capital if staff are philosophically aligned with the company. Reo Group is a good example of this.
And in the modern socio-political landscape, charity, goodwill, and social justice are the benchmarks by which corporations are now being assessed. The new, emerging class of top-tier employees are going to want to align themselves with corporations who share their values; so it makes sense that modern corporations lead the way.