Is your business attractive to socially conscious leaders?


The modern future leader wants more than a large salary and a swanky title. Those halcyon days are slowly drifting away and being replaced with a quest for meaning, purpose and the chance to engage in activity aligned to values.

It won’t be long before an employee will want to see the social and sustainability CV of their potential employer before deciding whether or not to ‘talk turkey’. Mark my words this is not as far away as you might think.

There are already some tough choices being made by organisations that are fighting for a share of the best talent. Either they provide more opportunities for existing or emerging leaders to contribute to social impact, or they risk being left behind.

“Corporate leaders are told to run a company for profit but now they’re thinking ‘I want to go beyond that, I want to have impact in society which is sustainable and makes a difference,’” says Filipe Santos, INSEAD associate professor of entrepreneurship and academic director of the INSEAD social entrepreneurship initiative.

By providing a solid infrastructure for socially-conscious leaders and an environment that encourages innovation, incubation and considered social impact, successful businesses are not only attracting talented leaders but their retention rates are higher than those of their competitors.

But these companies are seeing much broader value. The social intent commonly spills into a desire to bring along customers, commercial partners and communities that businesses impact. Corporate citizenship expectations are being met and environments created that harness more meaningful relationships and create shared value.

We could even begin to suggest that by businesses investing in socially conscious leaders and supporting initiatives – such as supply chain collaboration – that, by proxy, they are enhancing collective impact.

“Once you shift the mindset of the people in your organisation from a short-term focus on the value that we get from the activities and focus on the value that we can create for all stakeholders, the possibilities become much greater,” Santos explains. “People will think differently by being more in tune with societal needs and will find innovative ways of doing business, creating new revenue streams, expanding core capabilities and achieving competitive advantage in new markets.”

Firms don’t have motivations to engage in social issues, he argues. It’s the people inside the corporation, the social intrapreneurs from all ranks of the corporate hierarchy, from CEO to junior employee, who spark change. Able to leverage off a corporation’s network of resources, market share and distribution channels, Santos says, they address some of the toughest social and environmental challenges while delivering long–term value for their company.

What is now clear in the modern business environment is that there is an ‘adopt and adapt’ mindset that businesses must embrace when it comes to investing in socially conscious leaders.

To put it in black and white, it is to be bold enough to claim that the determinants for where highly skilled employees place their commitment is now more about heart and the most basic of human needs, actualisation. Businesses, it’s time to stand up and take note.

What do you think? Do businesses need to step it up to attract and retain socially conscious leaders?

Benojo matches those willing to give with those in need. An online platform where businesses, their employees and charities can connect, collaborate, transact, communicate, access shared services and measure the results of their social impact.

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