A key role of a CEO is to is be constantly ‘Scanning the Horizon’; always vigilant for potential opportunities and threats to their business.
Some threats are easier to predict. They are symptoms of global trends and receive wide coverage; political uncertainty, the rise of AI and robotics, decline in High Street retail, etc.
However, there is one global trend that until very recently had received almost no coverage. You could sense that something had changed but you had to seek out the research to understand it. There were no headlines, no news reports. It’s growth was silent and intangible. Yet its manifestations are already having a profound effect on businesses.
I call this trend ‘Compassionate Disruption’.
75% of the global workforce by 2025 will want to work for organisations that make a positive contribution to society
Deloitte Millennial Survey
Consider the following stats and their effect on the fundamentals of business success – attracting customers, motivating staff and attracting talent:
Attracting and Retaining Customers
84% of consumers believe that companies should do more for society – Ipsos Mori
A company’s revenue can increase by 20% as a result of their Corporate Responsibility Strategy – Babson Social Innovation Lab & IO Sustainability
Engaging your Team
86% of workers believe it is important that their employer is responsible to society – Ipsos Mori
Staff turnover can be reduced by 50% by implementing Corporate Responsibility effectively – Babson Social Innovation Lab & IO Sustainability
Attracting Future Talent
75% of the global workforce by 2025 will want to work for organisations that make a positive contribution to society – Deloitte Millennial Survey
75% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to work for a more responsible company – Cone Millennial Cause Group
Not Business as Usual
These stats strongly suggest that our attitudes towards business and the role it should play in the world have fundamentally changed. Our behaviours are changing accordingly. They are driving our decisions as to what companies we want to buy from and what companies we want to work for.
This should be a wake-up call for any credible business leader. As I say to my peers, ‘If you are not compelling customers to buy from you, inspiring your current team to deliver their best for you and attracting the best talent to join and stay with you, then you need to go.’ Ultimately that is your job.’
Compassionate Disruption presents an existential threat to ‘business as usual’ but it also presents an equally significant opportunity. The brands that embrace it and find an authentic way to deliver wider value for the world will be the ones that thrive and remain relevant.
What we now expect from businesses has changed. So too has what we demand from those who lead them. Imagine a world where our most respected business leaders were creators of wealth in the widest sense; reducing poverty, championing social mobility, protecting the environment. Imagine if, as a result, those leaders were also rewarded with commercial success in equal measure.
That is the future opportunity I see as I scan the horizon. It is that world, created by enlightened business leaders who hold themselves to a higher standard, that I want my young sons to grow up in.