Mil­len­ni­als, busi­ness and poverty

Franklin County News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - GEOFF SMITH

OPIN­ION: Our view of poverty has de­vel­oped from read­ing re­ports and see­ing news of aw­ful star­va­tion and liv­ing con­di­tions some­where else in the world.

It is a di­rect af­front to the much held be­lief of New Zealand as a place of ‘milk and honey’.

Poverty does not just mean lots of skele­ton like peo­ple gasp­ing for breath and wa­ter, high mor­tal­ity rates and se­ri­ous dis­ease.

The two main types of poverty are ab­so­lute poverty and rel­a­tive poverty.

Ab­so­lute poverty is de­fined as lack­ing the ba­sic means to sur­vive.

Rel­a­tive poverty oc­curs when a fam­ily’s in­come and way of liv­ing fall be­low the gen­eral stan­dard of liv­ing de­fined by its so­ci­ety.

I raise this be­cause it con­nects with a big­ger pic­ture re­lat­ing to busi­ness and em­ploy­ment.

The Mil­len­ni­als are the big­gest group of the work­force and they are hav­ing an im­pact as they de­mand greater so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity from prospec­tive em­ploy­ers.

When they are asked what the pur­pose of busi­ness is, the num­ber one re­sponse is ‘to im­prove so­ci­ety’.

They want to work in a com­pany where they can feel a sense of pur­pose or mean­ing in their daily work.

It seems they don’t want to study busi­ness skills just to have busi­ness skills; they want to study busi­ness and lead­er­ship skills be­cause they want to do good in the world and they want to make a change for the bet­ter.

To at­tract th­ese em­ploy­ees, com­pa­nies need to have a higher pur­pose that is more than just mak­ing money.

Se­condly, com­pa­nies need to look at com­mu­nity en­gage­ment as some­thing that cre­ates real value for the busi­ness and so­cial value for the com­mu­nity.

Some­times that re­spon­si­bil­ity is re­ferred to as Cor­po­rate Cit­i­zen­ship, and that is guided by The Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals.

The Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment is a set of 17 Global Goals with a num­ber of tar­gets be­tween them that were adopted by coun­tries around the world in 2015.

This frame­work of goals and tar­gets ab­so­lutely makes sense for busi­nesses that are so­cially minded and have a de­sire to play a wider role.

Goal num­ber 1 is: End poverty in all its forms ev­ery­where.

There are five tar­gets which in­clude re­duc­ing at least by half the pro­por­tion of peo­ple of all ages, liv­ing in poverty in all its di­men­sions, ac­cord­ing to na­tional def­i­ni­tions.

An­other tar­get is to build re­silience of the poor and those in vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tions to re­duce their ex­po­sure and vul­ner­a­bil­ity in a va­ri­ety of cir­cum­stances in­clud­ing eco­nomic, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal shocks.

Em­ploy­ment and busi­ness so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity can con­trib­ute so much to achiev­ing th­ese tar­gets.

If busi­nesses start think­ing about com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and so­cial im­pact as a way to at­tract new tal­ent, to re­tain tal­ent, to find in­no­va­tion and busi­ness in­sights, to build their brand, to en­gage cus­tomers, to en­gage reg­u­la­tors who might be af­fect­ing their in­dus­try, and to look at so­cial im­pact and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment more strate­gi­cally and think about the value it can bring to busi­ness, in terms of re­duc­ing risk and cost, then that is go­ing to help busi­nesses put more re­sources to achiev­ing such goals.

If we look far enough ahead, we might see a fu­ture where the tra- di­tional model of self­ish cap­i­tal­ism will be com­pletely re­placed by a model where ev­ery busi­ness is ex­pected to be a pos­i­tive con­trib­u­tor to the com­mu­nity and en­vi­ron­ment and it is not just some­thing for a se­lected in­sight­ful few.


Let­ters should not ex­ceed 250 words and must have full name, res­i­den­tial ad­dress and phone num­ber. Write to Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor, Franklin County News, PO Box 14, Pukekohe or email julie.kaio@fair­fax­me­ with your views

Geoff Smith

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