Updated: Aug 12
Traditionally there are three G’s of growth; consistent growth, competitive growth, and profitable growth. However, in today’s business environment these traditional corporate ideals are not enough to win the minds and hearts of Millennials. Our corporate cultures must embrace and adopt a fourth G; responsible growth, which creates social wealth.
Even the fathers of capitalism, such as Adam Smith said, “If you want to serve your self-interest, you will do what’s best for society.” During Harish Manwani’s, TED talk, Harish, Unilever Chairman, stated that capitalism has done a lot of great things, but it has not kept up with all the needs of society. Corporations must help support the communities that support them. The question then becomes, how do we do well in business and do good at the same time. It must come through leadership. There are things that are non-negotiable for a leader; your values and your purpose.
“Harish Manwani, Non-Executive Chairman of Unilever, the world's largest soap manufacturer, joined Unilever in 1976. He was appointed to the Board of Directors in 1995, as Director for Personal Products business. In 2000, he moved to the UK as Senior Vice President for the Global Hair Care and Oral Care Categories and in early 2001, he was appointed as President - Home & Personal Care, Latin America Business Group. Since 2005, he assumed charge as the Non-Executive Chairman of the Company.” (Source: http://topics.wsj.com/person/M/harish-manwani/6694)
In Harish’s experience, on his first day at work in 1976, he was told that he was there to change lives, not just to simply manufacture personal care products. Simple acts like children washing their hands saves lives. Worldwide, 5-million children die because of simple infections that their washing hands would stop, so Unilever runs the largest social handwashing initiative in the world.
Unilever also runs programs that help women in developing nations. One such program is iShakti. iShakti is Unilever’s program for women which teaches them how to create and run small nutritional businesses that spread the word on nutrition and hygiene changes lives for the better. Over 60,000 women are in this program. These socially responsible ways of creating wealth are changing and helping India’s society to be healthier as well as benefiting the corporation financially.
Business leaders need to realize that it is not just about selling products. Unilever is a great example, where its mission is not just about selling soap. It is about making sure that their business process changes peoples lives. Their small actions are making big differences. Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan says, “Our purpose is to make a sustainable living commonplace.“ They make great detergents and make them so that they use less water. If all people used their reduced water product it would save 500 billion liters of water; a one-month supply for an entire continent of Asia. Unilever is also working on its food products to be made from 100 % sustainable raw materials. For instance, Palm Oil which is not sourced from a sustainable source is the cause for 20% of India’s deforestation. All of these good things are happening because ofpeople's their leadership values human life and have purposed to change the lives of consumers while they market soap and soup.
For Millennial's to respect and follow you as a leader, all leaders must wake up and realize that their company must have a purpose, they must support the communities that support them, and they must understand that we as leaders, must lead the change we want to see.
Gregory A. Buschman, PhDc - Greg started his career at age 19 as a young entrepreneur in the construction industry and then found he has a passion for leadership, marketing and technology. After 13 years as an entrepreneur, he entered corporate America, and for 20+ years he has excelled in regional, national, and global leadership roles in the information management, digital imaging, and the print manufacturing industries. He holds two summa cum laude master degrees in Marketing and Information Systems, and is a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Leadership for Innovation and Change. www.gregbuschman.us.