The push towards a sustainable future is doomed unless current and future business leaders “unlearn” the traditional profit-oriented purpose of business.
That is the belief of associate professor Dr Ranjit Voola of the University of Sydney Business School, who said that businesses must have an increasing input into social issues “if we are to survive”.
“There are 4 billion people who live on less than $5 a day but only companies that rethink their business models from the traditional ‘low volume and high margins’ to ‘low margins and high volume’, will be able to address social issues ethically, as well as make profits,” says Dr Voola.
“The future belongs to the companies that rethink their single-minded drive for profit, and instead look to developing countries for opportunities to make money, while improving peoples’ lives,” he said.
Dr Voola was speaking in response to guidelines issued to universities worldwide about teaching methodologies that will help the UN achieve its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that aim to eliminate poverty and encourage social inclusion, economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, good governance and peace for all countries and people by 2030.
To achieve this, Professor Greg Whitwell, dean of the business school, said that business leaders, and students who will grow into our next generation of business leaders, need to adopt a “business not as usual” approach.
“Business not as usual means challenging the status quo, challenging established norms, the things that people take for granted,” he said.
However, many SME leaders are already embracing a more socially conscious business model, actively going above and beyond compliance requirements to embrace workplace diversity, support the customers and suppliers who support them and take an active lead in addressing community problems.
Indeed, My Business received a number of innovative and cutting-edge corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns nominated as part of this year’s Optus My Business Awards.
“Businesses like ours have a responsibility now to grow in the right ways and try to make sure that we can deliver healthy, nutritious products and help educate people on the importance of making these choices to our consumers,” Luke Bayliss, CEO and co-founder of SumoSalad recently told My Business.
“We’ve probably got a very clear differentiation in the market in terms of the purpose of our business to try to make Australia a healthier place.
“We’re one of the few businesses where you are actively contributing to a better Australia, and you are tackling, head on, one of the biggest health issues that the world has ever seen [i.e. obesity].”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.