We all love a good villain

ERNST BLOFELD

Good Villain?  

There’s nothing more satisfying than the demise of a good evil doer, be they a panto dame, a volcano dwelling megalomaniac with a tank of sharks, or most recently a greedy corporation selling souls for a market share. The bigger they are, the harder they fall and the louder we cheer.

This simple fact, coupled with the rise in transparency in every facet of our daily lives, means today’s CEO has to be especially careful choosing the right path for his or her business to tread.

In short, corporate social responsibility is the new black and if you don’t have a ‘CSR’ strategy then it’s maybe time to develop one. Now the topic is vast, so consider this just an ice breaker to scratch the surface and raise a few alerts and maybe the odd eyebrow.

It could be that the time of the evil empire has come to an end. One only needs to look at the recent behaviour of leading supermarket chain Tesco to realise the world is no longer going to put up with corporate skulduggery and chicanery on an industrial level. We’ve talked about the risky shift in past posts – where teams can sometimes collude to take ever greater risks – but could there be a better current example of the dangers of risk taking?

I mean cooking the books is one terrible thing, but horror stories about the corporation extorting cash from suppliers and then holding them to ransom is the chilling ice on the cake. It may seem incredulous now to think that they ever expected to control or contain such unethical practices, but evidently the Tesco board were so ingrained in their dirty tricks they couldn’t see the forest fire for the trees.

We’ve all seen how much damage the announcement of bonuses for the executives of struggling companies can have, and it only takes a few shares, memes or re-tweets to let the world know when things are going awry. In a world where everyone has access to all of the facts, it’s well worth making sure you’ve got all your facts right.

As always, coaching at the appropriate level can help align the people within an organisation behind its leader’s vision – good or bad. Richard Branson seems to have hit the nail on the head, when he said “taking care of people and the planet are at the very core of all businesses everywhere in the world.” and transparency and social media now demands that “business reinvents itself and becomes a force for good in the world.”

So we’d like to share a few tips to spare your company the odd rotten tomato in the face. The topic is vast and one we’re likely to return to, but for now here are a few appetizers for thought.

  1. Be aware that Corporate Social Responsibility is a real thing. It’s already here and it’s here to stay. Get it on the agenda. In fact, get it on all the agendas.
  2. Find and eliminate bad practice wherever you see it. From nepotism to unfair parking restrictions, to wages hikes and freezes. It only takes one disgruntled employee or bored journalist to raise a red flag, and red flags these days are like red rags to bulls.
  3. Escape the culture. It doesn’t matter if your competitors are cutting corners or worse, when the hammer falls, and it’s becoming harder to avoid just that, you don’t want it falling on you.
  4. Offer coaching wherever possible. Align your leaders behind a worthy cause and give all staff the tools they need to spot malpractice and stop it in its tracks.
  5. Be proud to be different. Take advantage of the fact you are doing things right. Because while we love a good baddie, at least for a while… we all know the good guys always win in the end.

The world is changing faster than it ever has, and if you want your company to survive you need to be ahead of the wave of social change. Embrace change and be one of the good guys. You never know, it might just help you sleep a little sounder knowing that you’re making the world a better place… or at least knowing you’re not going to be thrown to the wolves in the morning.

Go on. Give it a try, Tesco… Every little helps!

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About the Author

ALAN is CEO of CD as well as a qualified executive coach and a seasoned business mentor. He challenges progressive business people to step-up & realise their vision.

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