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Lighthouse - July, 2018.

BUSINESS WITH HUMANITY IN MIND

Global enterprises interact across many cultures and social environments. The diversity of these, where communities are either reasonably rich, impoverished, exploited or inadequately recompensed for their services; has led to calls for businesses to conduct themselves with humanity in mind.
For such businesses ‘humanity in mind’ is not a mantra but a core value. It means thinking about the bigger picture within a company and how the decisions it makes may affect their employees and the communities in which they operate. It is a desire to do something for humanity which has led to persons like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al Rajhi and Sheryl Sandberg becoming internationally known philanthropists. They use a significant total of their income to help others less fortunate. They also recognise that it is their staff that deserves special consideration for their contribution to a company’s success. Of course, there will be those who ask; “Why should we bother about humanity, I am happy just making money for myself?” However, research confirms that when staff is valued from the top down and when a company actively engages within the communities where it operates, then the bounce-back goodwill is worth its weight in gold.
Many services and products have become ever more comparable and interchangeable. Clients now have more choice because the internet means they are better informed and consequently are no longer necessarily loyal to companies, brands or services. They may be satisfied with a product but nowadays it requires more than just satisfaction – it requires meaningful interaction and a ‘we like your company’s attitude and approach better than others’, to maximise customer retention.
Doug Conant, an internationally renowned business leader with over 40 years leadership experience with companies including Nabisco, Campbell Soups and Avon Products, highlighted how business with humanity in mind starts: – ‘To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace’. When leaders go with what they feel is right, being true to themselves and only treating others as they would like to be treated; then humanity starts cascading down. However, wherever we find ourselves in this chain there is one thing that frequently halts the process. It’s our own egos! Once we start to think it is important that others recognise that we are important then our ability to build positive relationships is soon frustrated. Putting aside our egos, and focusing on how we may help others develop, means that all of us may grow together. It’s currently known as ‘giving back’. Often, it’s the little spark, a magic moment that starts someone on the path to success. Be it within a company, or an interaction between a company and a community; a catalyst for good carries its own inherent rewards. Where a company, a leader, a team or even a single salesperson are known to encourage others and think about how they can help; the ‘we like your company’ attribute soars.
Equally the same applies when ‘giving back’ includes interacting with communities. Starbucks, the American coffeehouse chain, was founded in Washington in 1971. It now operates in 28,218 locations worldwide. Their ‘Meet Me at Starbucks’ campaign was an exceptional method to involve communities enjoying the experience of getting together in a Starbucks café all around the world. It showed how it could adapt to regional cultures, whilst offering the guarantee of a recognised quality brand served by staff focused on their regional environment. So, everyone is happy because they are being recognised for who they are, where they are and in a way that connects the company with their individual experience.
No matter what the size of an organisation the bottom line, when it comes to ‘business with humanity in mind’, is that everyone within a company equally from the leaders downwards, provides opportunities for others to flourish as individuals. At the same time humanity requires we seek out those, within a community, who may benefit from a little help. Random acts of kindness go a long way especially if given from the heart. Receiving smiles from others, as you conduct your business, is great recognition that you are succeeding in putting humanity into your business. It also means that your brand is honestly endeavouring to give something back – this really is operating your business with humanity in mind

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