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Even the actions of a single person can help to change the world. How? Through simple acts of leadership and compassion. Open up this book, and discover the true stories of people whose actions have caused a chain reaction at work and in their communities. Among them:
A manager who gives an employee some supportive praise, and as a result literally saves his life (page 231).
A small group of bank tellers who spearhead a movement to raise millions of dollars for breast cancer, making it the biggest fundraiser in North America, and enhancing their company’s reputation (page 213).
A sales manager who gets a copy of a groundbreaking book that leads to a transformation of the company’s operations. As a result, hundreds of millions of pounds of carpet waste avoid the landfill, and the company sparks a revolution in its industry (page 12).
A “responsibility revolution” is shaking up corporate America. In this provocative and insightful book, bestselling author Tim Sanders reveals why companies must to go beyond making a profit and start making a difference.
Every one of us, regardless of title or position, can inspire our companies to change the way they do business, helping them to become a positive force for enriching people, communities, and the environment. When this happens, not only do we help save the world, we help save our companies from becoming irrelevant. We also become part of what Sanders calls the Responsibility Revolution.
Companies that don’t participate in this revolution risk becoming obsolete. Today customers, employees, and investors are demanding that companies focus on their social responsibilities—not just their bottom lines. Sixty-five percent of American consumers say they would change to brands associated with a good cause if price and quality were equal; 66 percent of recent college graduates will not work for companies with poor social values. And more than sixty million people are willing to pay a premium for socially and environmentally responsible products.
In SAVING THE WORLD AT WORK, Tim Sanders offers concrete suggestions on how all of us can help our companies join the Responsibility Revolution. Drawing on extensive interviews with hundreds of employees and CEOs, and illuminated by countless stories of people who are making a difference in the workplace and in the world, Sanders offers practical advice every individual and company can use to make the world a better place--now and in the future.
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TIM SANDERS is the author of Love Is the Killer App and a top speaker on the lecture circuit. He was the chief solutions officer at Yahoo!Inc. from 2001to 2005, where he worked on next-generation business strategies. He has been featured in Time and USA TODAY, and has appeared on Today, CNN, Fox and Friends, Tucker Carlson, and on national radio. He lives in Los Angeles, California.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The Power of One Revolutionary
There is a revolution under way, one that will change the way people define the role of business.
There is a revolution under way that will undermine billiondollar companies if they don’t respond to it, and make niche companies that embrace it enormously valuable.
here is a revolution under way that will transform our reasons for buying products and services. This revolution will be more influential than the quality revolution of the 1970s or the Internet revolution of the 1990s.
There is a revolution under way that will rival compensation and benefits as the primary reason to take a job.
If you’re not paying attention to this revolution, you and your company may be running out of time to participate–and thrive in the post-revolutionary era.
The Responsibility Revolution has arrived. It demands that companies make a difference to society–not just indirectly, by producing jobs and profits, but directly, through their products, through their manufacturing methods and operational systems, through their environmental efforts and community outreach.
The consumers and customers leading this revolution will screen your company to see if it is socially responsible. Then, and only then, will they reward it with their loyalty.
The Responsibility Revolution represents a new consciousness among consumers concerning why we buy or don’t buy, what we use or don’t use. We want to make a positive difference with our wallets, and through our actions, to make the world a better place.
There is also a new consciousness among employees. We want to find greater meaning in our lives through our work. We want to be associated with companies that practice good corporate citizenship.
There is a new consciousness among investors as well. We want to shape the future by putting our money into companies that match our social values.
Consumers, employees, and investors are changing business. They expect the companies with which they do business to join them in taking responsibility for the planet on which we all live, and for giving back to the larger world.
This is not a revolution that can be ignored. It will not go away. If your business isn’t socially responsible in the future, the forces of good will ride into the market like the cavalry, surround it, and choke off your supply lines. If you work in a company that is not socially responsible, whether it is a Fortune 500 company or a mom-andpop operation, it will feel the impact on its profits and revenues, and your colleagues could lose their jobs as the company buckles under the weight of this new paradigm.
You don’t believe me? Consider this: Today 65 percent of Americans are willing to switch to a brand associated with a good cause if price and quality are relatively equal. And 66 percent participate in at least one social cause-generated boycott each year (and with each passing year, the percentage grows).
In a recent study by the global consultancy The Work Foundation,10 percent of young job seekers identified themselves as “ethical enthusiasts,” more concerned about the ecological values of their potential employer than they are about starting take-home pay. One-third of these job seekers will be looking for a new position soon, because they feel their employers’ contribution to the community is below par. Two-thirds of this year’s college graduates claim they will not work for a company with a poor reputation for social responsibility.
Even more like-minded individuals will hit the workforce in 2010. In a 2006 study of fourteen- to eighteen-year-olds (commissioned by ad agency Energy BBDO), 78 percent said money “was less
important to them than personal fulfillment.” They went on to work for “companies that promote equality, a green environment, and social responsibility.” For them, purpose trumps paycheck.
Need more evidence? Socially responsible investments (SRIs)— mutual funds that screen companies for their contributions to society— rose 258 percent in the last ten years, a return on investment that beats the market by more than 15 percent. SRIs have grown in volume from $235 billion in 1995 to $2.3 trillion in 2005, which is twice the amount of money that came together a decade ago to fund the dotcom revolution. Financial analysts are starting to factor in the long-term risks of a company that pollutes, treats its workers poorly, or ignores the communities in which it operates—even if these companies
are swimming in profits today.
Do you want to be part of a great company? If so, you need to understand that “great” is getting an extreme makeover. Today, good is the new great.
A good company is one whose mission is to improve the lives of everyone in its footprint: employees, suppliers, customers, supporting communities, and the planet.
Customers, workers, and investors are flipping the basic charter for business on its head. Making money, producing profits, paying taxes, and providing employment opportunity are not enough. Companies now must directly improve the world around them. Adding value to employees, the community, and the planet will be critical in the twenty-first century.
A landmark study by business consultants McKinsey & Company, The War for Talent, claims that the recruitment and retention of talent in management and leadership positions will be the key to maintaining a competitive advantage in the future.
Businesses are chasing too few dollars with too many products, according to research from industries as diverse as retail and high technology; there is a war raging for customers and their loyalty.
This war will determine which companies will prosper in the future and which companies will be running on fumes. As Wall Street recognizes, market valuation and the ability to raise investment capital are the keys to expansion. The battle for investment dollars is fierce. Without the oxygen of fresh capital and loyal investors, new companies cannot grow and mature companies cannot compete.
So who is behind the Responsibility Revolution?
I call the people who compose its growing chorus the Them Generation. Many of them were born after 1980, but its membership includes everybody, of any age, who is focused on “them”–that is, on others.
Growing up in the 1960s, I was part of the Me Generation. We were only one generation removed from the Great Depression. I lived a life of material scarcity: I thought primarily about me, my safety, my security, and my future. Some called it self-involvement; I thought of it as survival.
The Me Generation was superseded in the 1980s and 1990s by the Us Generation, a group that focused half on me, half on you. This is basically the same story, same theme. What’s in it for me? What’s in it for us?
By comparison, the Them Generation sees itself as affluent rather than impoverished. These people don’t expect merely to survive, but to thrive. To them, there is enough to go around, and they are making a cause of giving some of it to others. They have little connection to the fear and insecurity of the Great Depression. Even speed bumps in the economy, such as the mortgage industry meltdown of 2007, don’t faze this group–they believe that these market lows will be followed by new market highs in the near future. They aren’t obsessed with notions of scarcity, survival, and security. They’ve moved up Abraham Maslow’s psychological ladder to a higher emotional need: to achieve significance.
Over half of all college students volunteered for a community or social project in 2007, up 50 percent from a previous generation; they are quickly becoming part of a purpose-driven economy, one that searches for meaning in work, career, and business. These students are focused on the faceless millions who have no voice, the impoverished workers in South America and underage children in Asia making our products. Them. The outside world.
Because the Them Generation wants to make the world a better place, they expect business to help. To achieve these goals, “Them- Geners” have become economic activists. They are a “smart mob” (a term invented by futurist Howard Rheingold), people who have the capacity to coordinate and collaborate with other people electronically to elicit change. They are wired to the gills and smart with their social networking, and working the World Wide Web. They can make things happen, overnight.
Consumers today are able to find out anything, anytime, anywhere, aided by gossip Web sites, YouTube, and a host of other emerging digital tattletales. Little stays secret in today’s society. Your company’s actions and intentions will be revealed and posted somewhere on a blog or a bulletin board for all to read and forward.
As the century marches on, your social intentions will be more important to success than your business concept. A recent survey indicates that almost half of all consumers use the Internet to figure out if the actions we take and the products we buy are socially responsible. These are thumb warriors, with a cause.
Finally, ThemGeners are highly influential. Much as Microsoft chairman Bill Gates swayed investor Warren Buffett to give away most of his money to others, today’s young revolutionaries are recruiting their elders to the cause. These fresh recruits–our parents and grandparents–have time to spare and fat retirement accounts. They represent one of the fastest-growing segments of new Internet users. They start out sending e-mail pictures of their grandkids and wind up sending mass e-mails of petitions, telling their friends to stop shopping at Wal-Mart or to boycott Exxon.
Washington, too, is contributing to the revolution in fits and starts. Reeling from corporate scandals, from WorldCom to Enron, the government has ...
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