Millennials, business and poverty
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.
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