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Emily is the kind of high-potential new hire so many companies want: a smart and personable newly minted MBA from a top school. High IQ. High EQ.
What kind of job would she like, ideally?
“I’d like to work in sustainability at a major corporation,” she told me.
Doing Good While Doing Well
Like so many of her generation, Emily is looking for a job with meaning, one that resonates with her values. In addition to her impressive degrees, she’s already proven her leadership talents by running a successful project in Africa focused on women’s health.
As companies are grappling with the question of how to attract and energize Millennials –– on whom the future of their business will depend – here’s a tip: do some good.
There are endless ways to mix business and making the world a better place, and none of them need hamper the business side. Any of them will make a workplace more appealing to this new generation of talent.
The Greyston Bakery in the Bronx does a high-volume business shipping its brownies up to the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Vermont, where they get mixed into the popular Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor.
But the Greyston Bakery was not founded as solely a profit-making business (though its doing just fine in that regard); the Bakery’s mission was to train and house homeless people, those just out of prison, and others on the economic fringes, giving them a sound way to make a living.
As I was writing my book A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World, the Greyston Bakery came up when I told him about ways companies are finding to do good, not just well. The Greyston Bakery, which he applauded, is a “B Corporation,” a company whose founding mission is to both make a profit and fulfill a social or environmental goal.
But there’s no need for a company to go the full “B” route. I also told the Dalai Lama about Salesforce, the cloud computing-based client services specialist. Hugely successful, it’s founding CEO Marc Benioff promotes what he calls the “1-1-1 model,” where a company (including his own) gives one percent of product, one percent of people’s time, and one percent of profit to worthy causes.
Raise the Bar
Then there’s the appeal of fairness. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Facebook is pushing its vendors to up pay and benefits for their workers – for instance, paying a minimum of $15 an hour.
In addition Facebook wants to see its major contractors give their own employees perks like at least 15 days each year for vacation, holidays and sick leave. Those costs may well be passed on to Facebook. But as their CEO said, “We think it’s an expense worth bearing.”
Build a Better Tomorrow
The environmental card carries great weight for a generation that knows it will face increasing planetary crises. Manufacturers from Nike to Owens Corning are looking into the environmental impacts and people practices of companies in their vast supply chains, getting them to lessen negative impacts and improve their treatment of the people who work for them.
One interesting way companies are going this route is in cooperation with the Harvard School of Public Health’s SHINE program, which offers a hard metric for impacts both environmental and social – and gives a company a hard measure for the increasing good it does.