3 myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

3 myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

Gender and millennials

3 myths fuelling the narrative
three myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

Over the last year, I have taken an interest in people’s ability to separate spin from substance, and how these fuel narratives. Narratives that are not necessarily true and hence not helpful. Here are the top three myths I have found fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials.

Millennials need purpose

You’re sitting in a conference organised by a very reputable organisation. Subconsciously, you assume there was some level of diligence in finding and curating speakers. You listen intently to the content. You see someone in the audience grab onto a good soundbite and you see it pop up on your twitter feed. Others like it, share it. But did the soundbite have any substance?

I saw this happen at a conference when one of the speakers said, “Millennials are different, they need purpose.” Is that true? Is purpose unique to millennials or is it a human need? So, I put my hand up to explore the speaker’s view. One of her fellow panellists jumped in, a futurist no less and said, “Millennials are different because this is the first time they are creating movements.” I was floored by this comment. Did Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi not create movements? Emily Pankhurst’s movement seems to have been forgotten too – ironic considering both these speakers were women. I think the futurist would do well in studying some history. For the record – humans do best when they have purpose. It doesn’t have to be grandiose – being a decent human being will do.

Millennials are tech-savvy

I was chairing a panel at a banking and finance conference geared to university students. The topic of the next generation came up and one of the panellists said, “Oh the next generation are impressive, they’re very tech-savvy.” Really? Let’s test it. I turned to the audience and asked, “I’m curious, who here has heard of blockchain”. There were around 150 people in the room. Not a single hand went up. “Ok, who’s heard of cryptocurrency or bitcoin?” This time, half the hands went up. I explained blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I turned back to the panel. They were speechless.

For women to progress, they need female role models

Role models are important. But does the gender matter? Is it women that need the role models or men? In interviewing men, I discovered a pattern amongst those who support women – they have a positive relationship with a female relative. Typically a mother or grandmother, who is oftentimes seen as a role model. Alternatively, they have seen a positive and respectful interaction between their parents. Interestingly, the significance of this is not in their conscious awareness and is only identified through a different style of interviewing. A style of interviewing which seeks to understand the person, not just the fit for the role. So, what can you do going forward? When presented with information or a data point ask:

  1. Is this true?
  2. Based on what evidence?
  3. What evidence is there to the contrary?
  4. What therefore do I choose to think, believe and share?

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

Over the last year, I have taken an interest in people’s ability to separate spin from substance, and how these fuel narratives. Narratives that are not necessarily true and hence not helpful. Here are the top three myths I have found fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials.

Millennials need purpose

You’re sitting in a conference organised by a very reputable organisation. Subconsciously, you assume there was some level of diligence in finding and curating speakers. You listen intently to the content. You see someone in the audience grab onto a good soundbite and you see it pop up on your twitter feed. Others like it, share it. But did the soundbite have any substance?

I saw this happen at a conference when one of the speakers said, “Millennials are different, they need purpose.” Is that true? Is purpose unique to millennials or is it a human need? So, I put my hand up to explore the speaker’s view. One of her fellow panellists jumped in, a futurist no less and said, “Millennials are different because this is the first time they are creating movements.” I was floored by this comment. Did Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi not create movements? Emily Pankhurst’s movement seems to have been forgotten too – ironic considering both these speakers were women. I think the futurist would do well in studying some history. For the record – humans do best when they have purpose. It doesn’t have to be grandiose – being a decent human being will do.

Millennials are tech-savvy

I was chairing a panel at a banking and finance conference geared to university students. The topic of the next generation came up and one of the panellists said, “Oh the next generation are impressive, they’re very tech-savvy.” Really? Let’s test it. I turned to the audience and asked, “I’m curious, who here has heard of blockchain”. There were around 150 people in the room. Not a single hand went up. “Ok, who’s heard of cryptocurrency or bitcoin?” This time, half the hands went up. I explained blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I turned back to the panel. They were speechless.

For women to progress, they need female role models

Role models are important. But does the gender matter? Is it women that need the role models or men? In interviewing men, I discovered a pattern amongst those who support women – they have a positive relationship with a female relative. Typically a mother or grandmother, who is oftentimes seen as a role model. Alternatively, they have seen a positive and respectful interaction between their parents. Interestingly, the significance of this is not in their conscious awareness and is only identified through a different style of interviewing. A style of interviewing which seeks to understand the person, not just the fit for the role. So, what can you do going forward? When presented with information or a data point ask:

  1. Is this true?
  2. Based on what evidence?
  3. What evidence is there to the contrary?
  4. What therefore do I choose to think, believe and share?

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

A Founder to Back?

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back?

We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present.

  • He was technologically sound
  • Had built a robust platform relevant to the market
  • The market opportunity was significant with little competition at present
  • Was strategic in building relationships with potential customers
  • No paying customers on board to date
  • Was modest in his projections
  • Ran a tight ship
  • Knew his subject matter well
  • Was open and transparent about the challenges and setbacks faced

So, the market opportunity was there. The platform was sound. But the current configuration was not going to work. To penetrate the market and build the required scale at speed, a new team would need to be on board, including a new CEO. But would the founder’s ego get in the way?

His reaction was ultimately what made those gathered decide to back him. Positive and genuine, he knew this is what was needed to succeed and saw it as an opportunity to focus on what he does best – building and strengthening the platform.

He now had the backing and support of the right people vested in mutual success.

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back?

We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present.

  • He was technologically sound
  • Had built a platform relevant to the market
  • Was strategic in building relationships with potential customers
  • No paying customers on board to date
  • Was modest in his projections
  • Ran a tight ship
  • Knew his subject matter well
  • Was open and transparent about the challenges and setbacks faced

So, the market opportunity was there. The platform was sound. But the current configuration was not going to work. To penetrate the market and build the required scale at speed, a new team would need to be on board, including a new CEO. But would the founder’s ego get in the way?

His reaction was ultimately what made those gathered decide to back him. Positive and genuine, he knew this is what was needed to succeed and saw it as an opportunity to focus on what he does best – building and strengthening the platform.

He now had the backing and support of the right people vested in mutual success.

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back? We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present. He was technologically sound Had built a robust platform relevant to...

read more

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging. A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working....

read more
Harmonising Co-Founders

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a cohesive team.

Conducting one-to-one and group sessions we:

  • Mapped out their backgrounds, experiences and geographic exposure
  • Profiled their styles of leadership and communication
  • Explored their drivers and ambitions, as well as their personal values and principles
  • Studied how they interacted and the shift in dynamics depending on who was present
  • Translated their experiences into their outlooks, standards, capabilities and expectations
  • Identified and aligned divergent perspectives and mindsets
  • Facilitated debates on how they should conduct their business and ironed out arising conflicts
  • Formulated agreed principles and modus operandi in delivering on their vision
  • Identified appropriate board members with the right balance of experience, credibility and affinity
  • Created institutional framework equipped to attract and safeguard 3rd party investor capital

 

Behind any successful venture is the dynamics of the people. In this particular case, there were three individuals who came together to form a new investment company. On the face of it, they shared a common vision and belief system, but coming together and delivering something tangible and sustainable is another matter.

The three individuals had different professional backgrounds and experiences, two from a corporate background, the other a serial entrepreneur. In addition, they had different geographic exposure. These factors meant they each had different perspectives and standards on how things should be done. We also had to factor in personalities and levels of dominance, whilst ensuring they all had an equal say, especially since they were equal partners from an equity perspective. So the challenge here was how to align them and shift their mindset from being sole operators to creating an institutional framework equipped to attract and safeguard 3rd party investors’ capital.

The work consisted of one-to-one sessions with each of the partners, along with combined sessions to create a cohesive way forward. Helping them shape and articulate the vision, values and methodology, we went a step further to ensure they could deliver in alignment with what they proffered to stand for. We tested their values and thesis on potential target investments which provided much debate and ironing out, without the complexity of outside shareholders. This gave them the opportunity to come up with solutions and align themselves as a united front prior to dealing with outside influence. We also identified appropriate board members who provided the right balance of experience, credibility and natural affinity to help foster and drive the mission and purpose of the organisation.

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back? We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present. He was technologically sound Had built a robust platform relevant to...

read more

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging. A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working....

read more
Friction when Scaling

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging.

A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working. The speed and rate of change was further amplified with additional acquisitions that needed to be merged with the business. The core team was under increasing amounts of pressure to provide stopgap solutions whilst other parts of the business were integrated. This had a snowball effect on morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting on results.

Conducted individual and group coaching sessions encompassing a number of areas including:

  • Identification of core drivers, strengths, aspirations and areas they wanted to develop
  • Personal reflection on events and interactions – perception, reaction and subsequent influence on relationships with their colleagues
  • Awareness and adjustment of personal behaviour and communication to improve relationships with colleagues
  • Exploration and development of ways to tackle rifts with colleagues (e.g. identifies areas in which they could be each other’s mentors and role models, playing off each other’s strengths)
  • Realignment of roles with functions playing to strengths and areas of competence as opposed to titles due to length of service

 

The work resulted in:

 

  • A team consisting of committed, competent and collaborative individuals operating in a more positive environment, with less friction and positive results.
  • A more collegiate and collaborative work environment, with improved communication, transparency and higher levels of trust
  • Realising they were not in the right role or company, some team members resigned – some went on to become founders of their own startup

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging.

A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working. The speed and rate of change was further amplified with additional acquisitions that needed to be merged with the business. The core team was under increasing amounts of pressure to provide stopgap solutions whilst other parts of the business were integrated. This had a snowball effect on morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting on results.

Conducted individual and group coaching sessions encompassing a number of areas including:

  • Identification of core drivers, strengths, aspirations and areas they wanted to develop
  • Personal reflection on events and interactions – perception, reaction and subsequent influence on relationships with their colleagues
  • Awareness and adjustment of personal behaviour and communication to improve relationships with colleagues
  • Exploration and development of ways to tackle rifts with colleagues (e.g. identifies areas in which they could be each other’s mentors and role models, playing off each other’s strengths)
  • Realignment of roles with functions playing to strengths and areas of competence as opposed to titles due to length of service

 

The work resulted in:

 

  • A team consisting of committed, competent and collaborative individuals operating in a more positive environment, with less friction and positive results.
  • A more collegiate and collaborative work environment, with improved communication, transparency and higher levels of trust
  • Realising they were not in the right role or company, some team members resigned – some went on to become founders of their own startup

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back? We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present. He was technologically sound Had built a robust platform relevant to...

read more

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging. A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working....

read more
Water and Wealth Creation

Water and Wealth Creation

On a trip to Kenya, we were faced with a village that required access to clean water. Their wish was to have water, to grow crop that would in turn provide them with the money to educate the boys and the girls of the community (traditionally only the boys were educated.)

In other words, a sustainable solution.

There were 3 key elements highlighted through our research:

1. The correlation between sustainability of wells and community involvement.

2. Most organisations measure track record in terms of wells drilled, not how many are still functioning after two to three years and no reference to the ongoing benefits e.g. economic development, creation of schools etc.

3. Main contributor to wells failing is lack of maintenance.

Applying our methodology, we searched for and identified a number of NGOs, charities and grassroots organisations. We screened them for their capabilities, track record, efficiency, transparency and ability to deliver. We finally chose a grassroots organisation whose model and capabilities were aligned with the needs of the village.

We worked with them to provide water to the village and other initiatives, providing the villagers with the means to become self-sufficient. One such initiative was using their mobile phone to create a maintenance alert and tracking system.

We are forever indebted to the people of Samburu for opening our eyes and the work of The Samburu Project for making a difference to people’s lives.

AMANI™ is in part due to their teachings.

On a trip to Kenya, we were faced with a village that required access to clean water. Their wish was to have water, to grow crop that would in turn provide them with the money to educate the boys and the girls of the community (traditionally only the boys were educated.)

In other words, a sustainable solution.

There were 3 key elements highlighted through our research:

1. The correlation between sustainability of wells and community involvement.

2. Most organisations measure track record in terms of wells drilled, not how many are still functioning after two to three years and no reference to the ongoing benefits e.g. economic development, creation of schools etc.

3. Main contributor to wells failing is lack of maintenance.

Applying our methodology, we searched for and identified a number of NGOs, charities and grassroots organisations. We screened them for their capabilities, track record, efficiency, transparency and ability to deliver. We finally chose a grassroots organisation whose model and capabilities were aligned with the needs of the village.

We worked with them to provide water to the village and other initiatives, providing the villagers with the means to become self-sufficient. One such initiative was using their mobile phone to create a maintenance alert and tracking system.

We are forever indebted to the people of Samburu for opening our eyes and the work of The Samburu Project for making a difference to people’s lives.

AMANI™ is in part due to their teachings.

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back? We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present. He was technologically sound Had built a robust platform relevant to...

read more

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging. A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working....

read more
A Country Search for Innovators

A Country Search for Innovators

As part of a Ideas from Europe and Malta’s Presidency of the Council of Europe, we were mandated by the Government of Malta to identify Maltese innovators with solutions to global challenges – businesses that were purposeful and profitable.

The challenge was two-fold:

  • Predominant perception that a business’s sole purpose is that of making money, with charity being the vehicle for doing good
  • Malta only has a population of 400,000 people, so a limited pool of potential innovators that would meet the criteria

Hence, in addition to the search, we needed to:

  • Create an outreach programme to educate stakeholders on what we mean by purposeful and profitable companies
  • Engage and encourage innovators, businesses and researchers to participate
  • Develop a mentoring networking to work with innovators that need guidance and support
  • Galvanise support from the investor and business community
  • Tap into the Maltese communities abroad to extend the search to innovators amongst the Maltese Diaspora
  • Use the opportunity to strengthen the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem

Execution:

  • Mapped out the key players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and included them in the process
  • Held one-to-one meetings with key members of the business community who saw the value and lent their support
  • Held information sessions on campus, startup events and business parks
  • Publicised the search through interviews with the press, social media and communiques to Maltese Consulates and Embassies
  • Targeted a variety of companies ranging from well-established institutions to startups to:
    • Further explain the criteria
    • Explore ideas they have in development
    • Determine their fit
    • Encourage them to submit a formal proposal
  • Developed a search specific site to capture submissions
  • Curated a panel of judges to review submissions and determine best ideas to present in person
  • Organised an event with a curated guest list
  • Held practice sessions with shortlisted innovators to prepare for the event

Key outcomes:

  • The winner will represent Malta in the semi-finals to be held in Estonia in November
  • Connected innovators with related ideas to converge their thoughts and explore ways of collaborating
  • AMANI has adopted one of the teams, providing them access to international markets

As part of a Ideas from Europe and Malta’s Presidency of the Council of Europe, we were mandated by the Government of Malta to identify Maltese innovators with solutions to global challenges – businesses that were purposeful and profitable.

The challenge was two-fold:

  • Predominant perception that a business’s sole purpose is that of making money, with charity being the vehicle for doing good
  • Malta only has a population of 400,000 people, so a limited pool of potential innovators that would meet the criteria

Hence, in addition to the search, we needed to:

  • Create an outreach programme to educate stakeholders on what we mean by purposeful and profitable companies
  • Engage and encourage innovators, businesses and researchers to participate
  • Develop a mentoring networking to work with innovators that need guidance and support
  • Galvanise support from the investor and business community
  • Tap into the Maltese communities abroad to extend the search to innovators amongst the Maltese Diaspora
  • Use the opportunity to strengthen the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem

Execution:

  • Mapped out the key players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem and included them in the process
  • Held one-to-one meetings with key members of the business community who saw the value and lent their support
  • Held information sessions on campus, startup events and business parks
  • Publicised the search through interviews with the press, social media and communiques to Maltese Consulates and Embassies
  • Targeted a variety of companies ranging from well-established institutions to startups to:
    • Further explain the criteria
    • Explore ideas they have in development
    • Determine their fit
    • Encourage them to submit a formal proposal
  • Developed a search specific site to capture submissions
  • Curated a panel of judges to review submissions and determine best ideas to present in person
  • Organised an event with a curated guest list
  • Held practice sessions with shortlisted innovators to prepare for the event

Key outcomes:

  • The winner will represent Malta in the semi-finals to be held in Estonia in November
  • Connected innovators with related ideas to converge their thoughts and explore ways of collaborating
  • AMANI has adopted one of the teams, providing them access to international markets

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back? We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present. He was technologically sound Had built a robust platform relevant to...

read more

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging. A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working....

read more
8 Reasons Ethics Make Good Business Sense

8 Reasons Ethics Make Good Business Sense

good business

8 reasons Ethics make good business sense
 
Facebook is the latest company to learn the hard way that bad conduct affects stakeholders. The share price has seen a 13.5% drop since the Cambridge Analytica drama. Here are eight reasons why ethics are good for business.

Shareholder Sentiment

Trust and confidence in management affect shareholder sentiment. News related to unethical behaviour negatively impacts this level of confidence. Negative shareholder sentiment does not attract investment.

This is relevant to private companies too, especially family businesses, where reputation and standing of the company impact the family name. Family businesses also have other stakeholders to bear in mind – other family members used to dividend payouts.

Engagement and Retention

Employees prefer working for companies that treat people with dignity, respect and fairness. An environment where employees feel valued. When employees see, hear or experience negative behaviour or practices misaligned with their principles, their trust and loyalty to the company erode. Hence ethics = higher engagement + retention.

Customer Satisfaction

Would you want to do business with a company you don’t trust? Other customers wouldn’t either.

Companies with high levels of customer satisfaction tend to generate a higher degree of customer loyalty, repeat business and greater market share.  Moreover, businesses that genuinely contribute to their community and maintain good relationships with other businesses tend to be more successful in the long run.

There is a caveat to this. Companies who have corporate social responsibility initiatives but poor business practices are in danger of breeding cynicism and mistrust. This is counter-productive to building brand and customer loyalty.

Focus on Creating Value

A business needs its people to focus on activities that grow the company and create value. Unethical practices are more likely to open a company up to unwanted distractions such as lawsuits. Why would a business engage in activities that detract from creating value?

“Ethical business practices are sound business practices.”

Financial Records

The last two decades have seen a number of cases centred on fraudulent financial reporting. Whilst the effects of misleading financial reporting may boost the company’s stock price in the short-term, there are almost always ill effects in the long run.

Accurate financial records are more than a regulatory requirement. They are key to sound decision-making and long-term success.

Green Practices

I was once told ‘whether you’re chopping trees or hugging trees, people look for returns.”

The fact of the matter is if you don’t keep an eye on your bottom line, the business will be unsustainable. The bottom line is affected by people’s perception, belief and likeability of your company. The internet and social media have provided stakeholders with greater insight into the impact businesses have on our environment and society. Customers seek to do business with companies that reflect their values. Suppliers and investors would be wise to follow suit.

Unforeseen Circumstances

Waiting until a crisis strikes to instil and encourage good behaviours is a poor strategy. It takes time to overhaul embedded systems, beliefs and practices, so businesses are better off setting off on the right foot, rather than trying to course correct when calamity hits.

Genuine errors and unforeseen circumstances do happen. The ability for a business to respond appropriately and speedily speaks volumes in the eyes of stakeholders. When bad news hits, taking prompt and proper action is essential. Delayed decisions fuel negative public opinion, causing a downward spiral in relationships with stakeholders. This is not good practice for any business that needs customers, employees, suppliers and/or investors to thrive.

Counteract Apathy

Some may still argue why change when some are getting away with it. Others may wait for regulatory bodies to force them to clean up their business practices. But the fact of the matter is, we can no longer ignore the impact business has. We can no longer exonerate our actions through corporate social responsibility. We need to challenge the status quo bred under the guise ‘but this is business’. It’s smart to start right – acting responsibly in the first place.

Originally featured in Fresh Business Thinking and updated on 25 April 2018.

Facebook is the latest company to learn the hard way that bad conduct affects stakeholders. The share price has seen a 13.5% drop since the Cambridge Analytica drama. Here are eight reasons why ethics are good for business.

Shareholder Sentiment

Trust and confidence in management affect shareholder sentiment. News related to unethical behaviour negatively impacts this level of confidence. Negative shareholder sentiment does not attract investment.

This is relevant to private companies too, especially family businesses, where reputation and standing of the company impact the family name. Family businesses also have other stakeholders to bear in mind – other family members used to dividend payouts.

Engagement and Retention

Employees prefer working for companies that treat people with dignity, respect and fairness. An environment where employees feel valued. When employees see, hear or experience negative behaviour or practices misaligned with their principles, their trust and loyalty to the company erode. Hence ethics = higher engagement + retention.

Customer Satisfaction

Would you want to do business with a company you don’t trust? Other customers wouldn’t either.

Companies with high levels of customer satisfaction tend to generate a higher degree of customer loyalty, repeat business and greater market share.  Moreover, businesses that genuinely contribute to their community and maintain good relationships with other businesses tend to be more successful in the long run.

There is a caveat to this. Companies who have corporate social responsibility initiatives but poor business practices are in danger of breeding cynicism and mistrust. This is counter-productive to building brand and customer loyalty.

Focus on Creating Value

A business needs its people to focus on activities that grow the company and create value. Unethical practices are more likely to open a company up to unwanted distractions such as lawsuits. Why would a business engage in activities that detract from creating value?

“Ethical business practices are sound business practices.”

Financial Records

The last two decades have seen a number of cases centred on fraudulent financial reporting. Whilst the effects of misleading financial reporting may boost the company’s stock price in the short-term, there are almost always ill effects in the long run.

Accurate financial records are more than a regulatory requirement. They are key to sound decision-making and long-term success.

Green Practices

I was once told ‘whether you’re chopping trees or hugging trees, people look for returns.”

The fact of the matter is if you don’t keep an eye on your bottom line, the business will be unsustainable. The bottom line is affected by people’s perception, belief and likeability of your company. The internet and social media have provided stakeholders with greater insight into the impact businesses have on our environment and society. Customers seek to do business with companies that reflect their values. Suppliers and investors would be wise to follow suit.

Unforeseen Circumstances

Waiting until a crisis strikes to instil and encourage good behaviours is a poor strategy. It takes time to overhaul embedded systems, beliefs and practices, so businesses are better off setting off on the right foot, rather than trying to course correct when calamity hits.

Genuine errors and unforeseen circumstances do happen. The ability for a business to respond appropriately and speedily speaks volumes in the eyes of stakeholders. When bad news hits, taking prompt and proper action is essential. Delayed decisions fuel negative public opinion, causing a downward spiral in relationships with stakeholders. This is not good practice for any business that needs customers, employees, suppliers and/or investors to thrive.

Counteract Apathy

Some may still argue why change when some are getting away with it. Others may wait for regulatory bodies to force them to clean up their business practices. But the fact of the matter is, we can no longer ignore the impact business has. We can no longer exonerate our actions through corporate social responsibility. We need to challenge the status quo bred under the guise ‘but this is business’. It’s smart to start right – acting responsibly in the first place.

Originally featured in Fresh Business Thinking and updated on 25 April 2018.