ReImagining Business in Responsible Business
- Select a blog category
I was lucky enough to be invited to the panel session as part of a day-long Social Impact Workshop. It was hosted by Deloitte UK and attended by many of the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers—a programme that is working with 30 socially innovative businesses, providing them with a bespoke package of Deloitte support to help them mainstream and become investment-ready.
During the session, a significant part of the discussion revolved around how social businesses can demonstrate their impact in society with rigour and consistency. Someone from the floor made the very insightful remark that (to paraphrase) 'Surely this impact measurement stuff is only going to work and have real value if all businesses measure their performances in this way, not just ‘social businesses’. He took the words right out of my mouth.
I am part of a DTTL team that, along with clients and partners from other industries and sectors, is trying to ‘reimagine business’ and look again at the purpose of business. Can we recalibrate the contribution that our core business activities make to global society? At its most fundamental, isn’t business, hasn’t it always been, and shouldn’t it always be about building society?
We’ve built the Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneers programme around showcasing social businesses and social innovations that demonstrate real potential for growth. We are then taking them on, as clients, to provide support and guidance to help them achieve scale and mainstream their businesses.
We wanted to create an approach that utilised our expertise and capabilities to really make a difference to small and medium sized businesses, “the engine room of the UK economy,” that are also tackling fundamental social and environmental issues; such as supporting offenders and the disabled back into work, helping the most disadvantaged members of society access social finance, or raising the hopes and aspirations of our young people, to name but a few. So far over 200 people from across Deloitte have been involved in selecting the Pioneers. Going forward, 90 of our most talented individuals will be responsible for managing the Pioneer relationships.
I love my job. I work for an organisation with a genuine belief in its role in contributing to a sustainable and prosperous society; one in which I am given the space to innovate, to influence the direction of our business and deliver exceptional social impact.
And yet deep down I know that really I ought not to have a job. That, in fact, the true measure of my success is to be no longer needed. Bizarre? Maybe, but think about it for a moment.
The current economic environment has made us all think again about the purpose and role of business in society. What, ultimately is business for? Done right, business is a powerful tool for social change – not just through job and wealth creation, but in driving innovation and in solving big social problems. What role does corporate responsibility play in this?