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How to Do Good AND Make a Profit

How to Do Good AND Make a Profit

How to do Good AND Make a Profit

    With the world economic and business outlook still so uncertain, a key question is just how the businesses world can continue to do good as well as maintain their bottom line.

    Over the last few years, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has become such a buzz word for business people with companies sprouting all sorts of CSR initiatives, but are companies really embracing CSR because they believe in it or are they in it for entirely selfish reasons?

    Are they really acting out of some kind of moral duty or is the reality still that they only care about the bottom line?

    In simpler terms, CSR means “doing the right thing”. A company’s commitment to CSR therefore implies ethical conduct and a moral sense of what is right and what is wrong, and it should aim to eliminate or minimise any negative impact of its business activities.

    savetheworld1

      With the unscrupulous behaviour of the major banks over the last few years which has led to the current worldwide economic downturn, never before has it  been so pertinent that business people are seen to be doing the right thing.

      Even President Obama has been urging businesses to do the right thing and become socially responsible. His approach and vision is refreshing from all that has gone before us for so long.

      So the business person today faces a major dilemma. Whereas on the one hand, his or her company has to minimise the negative impact of its business activities on the environment, employees, suppliers, customers and the wider community, on the other hand it is only by maximising the company’s return can all these stakeholder groups be served adequately.

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      What is Personal Social Responsibility?

      The pre-requisite for understanding and accepting the need for CSR and subsequently implementing it successfully is the concept of Personal Social Responsibility (PSR).

      PSR is all about doing to others what you would like others do to you. It is about recognising how your behaviour affects others, and holding yourself accountable for your actions. It is about being in integrity and doing the right thing for the right moral reasons.
      The key question to ask is how can we as individuals and businesses improve the world?

      Ideally a PSR aware person will:-

      1. Always endeavour to have a positive effect on others.
      2. Have a mind set to contribute.
      3. Refrain from causing negativity in his environment e.g. by throwing litter on the ground, or by gossiping.
      4. His social and economic activities will have a positive or neutral impact on the environment.

      However the real challenge the world faces today is for people at the top of the business world to do the “right” thing for themselves, their children and the world.

      Increasingly more and more companies must wake up to their responsibilities to the environment, the larger community and the global implications of their activities.

      Create your own PSR vision and journey

      Clearly the business debate is no longer about whether a company should make a substantial commitment to CSR but just how? Business people really do have to get their CSR act together and actually start doing stuff.

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      So where do you begin? Start by firstly becoming aware of the concept of PSR. By coming from a place of being socially responsible for all your actions, you will immediately begin to think differently. And that will form a solid foundation for understanding and developing CSR in your business.

      Remember that PSR is more than just merely recycling paper or giving out money to your chosen charity. It is all about taking a firm stand and making a commitment towards giving back to society and at the same time ensuring the long term viability and profitability of your business.

      To get you started, my PSR vision is that as individuals we always do the best for us and the people in our lives, and at the same time our businesses endeavour to do the best for the world at large.

      Reach your own PSR vision by spending some time and answering the following questions. These questions will help you to develop your own understanding of PSR and CSR and ultimately create a plan of action that suits you and your business:-

      1. How will the world be a better place because you have lived?

      2. How will the world and future generations benefit from your company’s activities?

      3. What legacy are you leaving behind through your work?

      4. What would you like to be said about you after you die? And about your work?

      5. If you only had six months to live, how would you spend some of that time making a difference in the world? In which area would you create the most urgency and why?

      6. What does Corporate Social Responsibility mean to you? What does it mean to your company / business?

      7. Do you believe that you and your business have a moral duty to respond to world problems? Why? What’s the ideal response to the various problems?

      8. Can companies be socially responsible and be profitable at the same time? What level of profits is acceptable to you and why?

      9. What do you think about this statement – “Responsible business should be about profit making, not profiteering?” Why?

      10. What positive lessons can you learn from businesses that you think have a social conscience? What do you really like about the ethics of those businesses whose ethics you admire? What can you learn from them to apply in your own business?

      11. If your children asked you if your business was ethical in all its activities, would you be able to look them in the eye and honestly say YES?! If NOT, what will it take for you to answer YES?

      12. What legacy is your business creating for the children of tomorrow? Socially? Ethically? Environmentally?

      13. What do you NOT want your business to continue doing?

      14. If there was one thing you could change about your business and its ethics policy, what would it be? When will you make this change?

      15. What is really stopping you and your business from being more socially responsible? What will you do next?

      16. Having been on this short journey of discovering Personal Social Responsibility, how will you now live your life differently?

      17. In what ways will you apply Personal Social Responsibility in your life from now on?

      So begin today on your journey through this exciting, challenging and ultimately fulfilling world of business ethics, social responsibility and sustainability.

      Make your life and your actions count from today.

      Make it happen! Good luck and enjoy your journey.

      Come from a place of being socially responsible – you owe it to our future generations. ~ Arvind Devalia

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      Last Updated on August 20, 2019

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

      Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

      This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

      The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

      Curiosity

      Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

      People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

      Patience

      Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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      When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

      Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

      A Feeling for Connectedness

      This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

      A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

      The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

      With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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      1. Research

      Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

      Learning the Basics

      Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

      Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

      What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

      Hitting the Books

      Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

      Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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      Long-Term Reference

      While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

      My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

      2. Practice

      Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

      A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

      Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

      3. Network

      One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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      These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

      Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

      4. Schedule

      For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

      Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

      Final Thoughts

      In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

      If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

      At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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      Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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