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Redefining the raison d'être: What it takes to build a net-positive company
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, former Unilever CEO Paul Polman and adviser Andrew Winston outline the ways a corporation can become a net-positive company - that is, one that 'improves well-being for everyone it impacts and at all scales - every product, every operation, every region and country, and for every stakeholder, including employees, suppliers, communities, customers, and even future generations and the planet itself.'
The two - whose recently published 'Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive by Giving More Than They Take' (Harvard Business Review Press, 2021) outlines this concept in greater depth - make the case that while net positivity might at first sound like a lofty goal, it not only helps to address the world's most urgent needs but also has the potential to create new economic opportunities.
Here's why: We've seen recently that major disruptions are tremendously costly. The coronavirus pandemic, for example, has cost the global economy some $22 trillion.
Meanwhile, businesses face increasing pressure to create solutions from several angles. Investors, for example, are demanding more action toward implementing effective ESG frameworks. Financial regulators now insist on improved transparency and disclosure. Business customers are becoming more interested how their suppliers are tackling climate and diversity benchmarks. And a growing segment of the workforce - particularly Millennials and Gen Zers - simply won't work for employers whose values are not in alignment with their own.
On the other hand, companies that work toward net positivity are able to achieve a more wholistic engagement with the world at large. This mutual affinity leads to greater collaboration - and greater rewards.
Polman and Winston say currently there are no net-positive corporations, but there are four basic steps toward achieving this goal.
Focusing first on serving stakeholders: customers, communities, employees, business partners. Shareholder rewards will follow.
Taking full ownership of external actions like investments, logistics and supply to ensure every step toward providing a good or service isn't counterintuitive to a corporation's mission and values.
Looking toward ways to work with competition and even critics. Starting with collaboration on low-risk efforts can yield more efficient and sustainable practices for entire industries.
Systemic change won't come from a single actor. The for-profit sector, government and civil society must come together to achieve what Polman and Winston refer to as net-positive advocacy.
Appharvest Inc. published this content on 08 September 2021 and is solely responsible for the information contained therein. Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 08 September 2021 11:31:04 UTC.