By 2030, a single computer you buy at a retail store will have the computing power of the entire human race. While computing power has grown at an exponential rate, computers still rely on us humans to give it purpose. Afterall, computers are hardwired programs of human choices and intentions. If computers, programs and machines at large reflect humanity, then tech companies like us have the moral duty to use technology as a force for good for the generations to come.
I see building enduring businesses and championing good as intertwined. Patagonia, the billion-dollar outdoor brand whose philanthropic founder Yvon Chouinard declared that he’s giving his company to fight climate change and in my view he ‘reinvested’ the company and renewed its commitment in building a kinder and healthier earth. While it was a global PR sensation, it wasn’t a PR stunt. The brand has spent a lifetime building a profitable and prolific brand while saving the earth and taking care of its employees – from its rigorous earth friendly procurement practices to their consistent hefty investments in large humanitarian projects to making sure their employees are paid even when store closes during the pandemic. Curious enough, they are also listed as the most innovative, most valuable and most reputable brand in many award lists across the world.
In my work helping companies find that balance between furthering profit, developing people and staying on purpose, often the challenge starts with not having a corporate direction that’s engineered towards bettering individuals, society or the environment. Conversely, there are several tried and tested ways that I have seen companies succeed in balancing profit, people and purpose. Here are 3 of them.
Building diversity and minority representation within the business forms the foundation for growth and productivity.
It’s not just hanging the pride flag or ticking the boxes in gender or ethnicity representation in hiring. Broadening your business’ perspective to diversity is key to many organizational metrics. A common lever amongst some of the world’s most valuable brands today is they are run by high performance teams that are not only highly skilled but diverse in workand life experiences. Imagine pitching a business with people who have worked in the industry or building banking software for the elderly unbanked with talents that have worked with them? I once hired an ex-teacher as a software engineer because of the methodical way that talent thinks and that’ll be an asset when we work with ed tech work which is a fast-growing market. Making it a prerogative to hire by life experiences on top, and in some case independent of job experiences makes a difference in culture forming and staying competitive. Recent studies including this one from Forbes has found a connection between talent diversity with financial performance uplift and talent retention. The more diverse the team, the higher share of experience a company has in possession - the more solid the foundation for growth.
Identifying the causes of the underserved can help society while reaching out to an untapped market.
Grameen Bank founder and Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus started a bank to help low-income businesses, mostly farmers attain financial help which in 1970s Bangladesh was simply out of reach. Its impact has been well documented by the World Bank in alleviating poverty in Blangadesh and has become a sustainable business, without subsidized or institutionalized funds. Thinking from society first is counter intuitive for many businesses but I’m seeing a shift lately. Not only am I seeing this taught in graduate schools to a new generation of future business leaders, but in my conversations with new tech CEOs, many are attuned to the intricacies of human centric thinking in building business models and technology that contributes to both society and business. This is a space PALO IT is deeply entrenched in and the reason many Palowans (an endearing way we call our staff) join us. Our partnership with Trust Bank, a bank that is helping a new generation of ‘new to banks’ become financially literate and responsible, is our way of living this point.
Create a conscious and intentional roadmap for digital and tech sobriety
This could be by far the most undervalued way to champion environmental goods while driving IT infrastructure costs down. With most of Europe and Singapore aiming to be net zero by 2050, corporations and SMBs alike across the regions are becoming increasingly aware of the carbon footprint (and the size of their bill) they leave behind from their servers, hardware, software, and IT practices. But few have a plan to tackle that holistically. Only 57% of companies interviewed by Deloitte have started using energy-efficient or climate-friendly machinery, technologies, and equipment. Thankfully, we see more and more organizations becoming conscious of the impact of IT on the environment and its bottom-line. Companies are actively consulting us and our partners to devise ways of monitoring, reporting and action planning to help them work towards a win-win position in their technology strategy.
Championing good for us at PALO IT has come to the stage where we now help companies find that balance between growing profit, people and purpose, and grow the eco-system of like-minded partners. Doing good isn’t a department or a committee in a company. It's a belief and a mindset that are symbiotic to the culture, reputation and commercial velocity of any organization. While this movement remains young, there are more and more companies committed to helping businesses do good while generating profits. But this is only altogether that we will create a greener and brighter future.
If you are keen to explore new ways to balance profit with good, let's talk.