Adopting a positive corporate vision

The problems facing our species will never be solved without government and business leaders deciding that enough is enough, and changing the behavior and conduct of their organizations to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Our problems today go to the very heart of our political and economic systems. We can't really address climate change without discussing our energy policies, and our energy politics. We can't really address species extinction without discussing an economic model that demands constant expansion and constant growth. And we can't really address the crisis in democracy today without discussing inequalities in wealth and opportunity, and the constant need for governments to be at war.

Corporations and businesses can serve as powerful forces in asking tough questions and pressing for needed change.

And a lot of this starts with adopting a positive corporate vision in which a beneficial social impact is incorporated into the mission statement of the corporation.

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Here are some things that corporations can do to adopt a positive corporate vision:

(i) Draft a corporate manifesto. A corporate manifesto can tell the world about the vision of the corporation, what its purpose is, and why creating a positive social impact is important to the corporation. Patagonia has a great corporate manifesto broken up into component parts. 

(ii) Challenge your customers and suppliers to make a positive difference. Take an affirmative stance on certain issues that are important to the business or the industry, and educate your customers and suppliers about those issues. This is not about being preachy, but about taking a stance on things that are important to the business. 

(iii) Appoint board members who are aligned with the corporate vision. The right board can make a huge difference in aligning corporate values. When thinking about prospective board members, think about their values, and ask them whether they are willing to act as missionaries for the company's positive impact. 

(iv) Be willing to take risks. We are living at a time in which there are looming existential threats to our way of life, perhaps even to our species. Radical change is coming. The question is whether it will be foisted on us by circumstance, or whether we can make those changes today to get ahead of things.

I completely understand the pressures of satisfying stockholders and generating profit. But we have to all start thinking sustainability, and changing business practices so they are sustainable for the long term, otherwise, there will not be much of a planet left for us or our children.