Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Live Generously: Being in Business to Help Others

Beverly Purtell, Sr. VP Human Resource Management, New England Credit Union Services, LLC

This following article by Dan Oswald, CEO of BLR, caught my eye for two reasons.  The immediate reason is that we are all in business to help others so it was worth reading to see how relevant the article would be to our credit union philosophy.  And when Mr. Oswald referenced the Harvard MBA quote which we use at the League/Association in our Developing Great Managers certificate program, I knew it was worth sharing!  He captures the essence of the credit union movement –Being in Business to Help Others.  He ends this quick article by asking, ”How can you help change lives?”.  This is something credit unions do every day.  As we celebrate the holidays we should celebrate the privilege of being in business to help others.   -Beverly Purtell.

I was in Birmingham, Alabama, over the weekend visiting my daughter at college. While out for breakfast, I saw a local newspaper with the headline “Live Generously: How three Gardendale teenagers hope to change lives with new business.”

While the concept of companies giving back isn’t new, there’s been a distinct trend toward the mixing of business and philanthropy. Take TOMS, for instance. The shoe company’s website proclaims, “We’re in business to help change lives.” TOMS is involved in two forms of giving. First, since the company started in 2006, it has given away a pair of new shoes to a child in need every time a customer buys a pair of shoes. And now that it sells eyewear as well, it helps restore the sight of someone in need every time someone purchases a pair of eyeglasses. TOMS even has a “Giving Report” on its website that explains its programs and reports on what the company has done with its charitable efforts.

And it’s not just TOMS that is mixing business with giving back. In addition to the traditional charitable organizations, there are now “for benefit” organizations, B corporations, and low-profit limited-liability corporations—a new twist on the traditional business model we have accepted for so long. It’s a different way of thinking about how businesses operate within our society and the positive impact they can have in ways other than just providing a product or service to their customers and a paycheck to their employees.

If you’re a regular reader, you may recall the “MBA Oath” I’ve referenced in the past.  Created by a group of Harvard MBA students, the oath states business grads will pursue more than just the bottom line. It begins, “As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone.” Don’t you think the managers at TOMS have done this? Don’t you think those three Alabama girls are beginning a trek to do the same?

It never hurts to think about the various ways we can give back, whether it be personally or through our work. When you have a trio of teenagers thinking about how they can mix their career interests with charity, it shows that there is a different way to think about philanthropy and business. I’d encourage you to think about what you can do, what your team can do, and what your company can do to make a difference in the world beyond just providing a product or service to your customers. How can you help change lives?  -Dan Oswald, CEO, BLR.
 

Posted by Rob •
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