Business must be for profit, but profit must be for a purpose

This is a time we are being confronted by many challenges. The economy and finances are evolving at an ever-faster pace, oscillating from one day to the next. One of our main problems seems to be that the way we are supplying our needs does not appear to be sustainable in the long run; it is not only hurting the environment, but it also is causing profound social unrest and stress.

In the short term, we are being faced by the need to reconcile the demands of a fluctuating economy in searching wellbeing. In the medium term, one of the main challenges seems to be the quality of life, not only the one superimposed by our own interests or the interests of those close to us, but the challenge to contribute positively to the quality of life in general. And in the long term, we must think of the impact of our actions on future generations, our responsibility to the environment.

In this multifactorial problem equation, businesses play an imperative role, since they are one of the crucial factors for an economy to flourish. However, the way businesses are perceived is rapidly evolving as well, where obtaining profit at any cost as the sole and unique purpose of an enterprise is no longer the name of the game; businesses are being and must be seen as truly generators of welfare. This way of conceiving them requires new schemes of participation and collaboration of all of those involved inside and outside the company, schemes not only ruled by values such as transparency, sustainability, and social commitment, but rather by a more holistic view of the goals to be accomplished.

A more holistic view implies that businesses should be responsible for generating a healthy surplus, with an embedded attitude that prevents cynically ignoring the wellbeing of those whose resources we manipulate, an attitude that make us care for the quality of life of all those involved in the company’s activities, and an attitude that keeps us from neglecting the impact of our activities on the planet. It is beyond any friendly environment or social commitment initiative within the company.

It is not only that companies engage in humanitarian or environmental work when things go well and have a large financial surplus, or as a way to promote their image. Rather, it is to incorporate to their culture a more comprehensive vision that allows to creatively include all those multiple factors in their daily efforts as a part of their overall aims. A holistic approach may help companies to go through difficult times and be more sustainable in the long run.

Some experts claim that the single factor that could integrate a more comprehensive vision is altruism, others that it is simply changing the way the goals of a business are conceived. For me, besides those fundamental factors, it also implies working at the individual level to make us more aware of our habitual way of thinking, of acting. . . and of keeping in mind how interdependent and interconnected is our wellbeing with the wellbeing of others, of those close to us or distant as they may seem.