We are currently undergoing a significant shift in today’s Western business world. A new, more socially engaged business ethos is starting to emerge. It has now become so widespread that even the educational establishment and governments acknowledge its existence. Putting the Soul Back into Business, documents individuals’ experiences in driving this important change. In presenting these stories, this book aims to be a source of inspiration for those keen to implement social change within their working lives.
As a business consultant of many years, who works in organisations of all shapes and sizes, I began to spot a trend – a new behaviour among younger people. More and more they demanded a job in which they could personally contribute to the betterment of the world – whether by championing ‘green’ issues within their organisation and beyond, or taking personal steps to directly support local or international charitable or social support efforts. I asked myself: Were my observations valid? How widespread was this shift among those who are our next generation of leaders? What impact are these individuals making?
Using my role in the Harvard Club of the UK, I decided to test the strength of this trend by joining with an Oxford Alumna and her contacts, to put on a panellist event entitled “Putting the Soul Back into Business.” Panellists ranged from individuals within large organisation to founders of new, social enterprises and charities. Each was asked to tell his or her story about wanting to make a personal impact on those in need or on the environment. As the event drew near, I worried that I had misjudged and that only a few people would show. The event was scheduled for after business hours on a week night in London, so 30 or 40 attendees would be counted a success.
In the end, we had to stop accepting attendees at almost 100, due to the limitations of the room. Surprised by the response, we agreed to run another event 6 months later and to our surprise, we reached capacity once more with a large proportion of the audience being new attendees. Encouraged by those who attended, we now offer this event every 6 months in order to act as an inspiration and network for others who wish to bring this spirit to their own organisation and the Harvard-Oxford Social Business Network was formed.
So, after these events what conclusions did I draw? There is definitely a trend and it’s growing!
Attendees all loved the event because they could link with others of a similar mind set. Before the network, they felt like ‘lone social warriors’ in their organisations and, indeed, in the world at large. So, to expand the reach of the group, I decided to chronicle these activities so that they could be available to inspire a much larger number of people.
Putting the Soul Back into Business- captures the stories of individuals who have embraced this spirit. Social warriors who have taken steps, little and large, to ensure their organisations, businesses or business environments contributed and connected to important social causes. I hope this book will serve as an inspiration and accelerate this important trend by providing a sense of connectedness to readers who share these aspirations.
The article above will appear as the FOREWARD in my next book. I have lots of good, personal stories, but if you know of anyone else who you feel should be included, please contact me.
The first draft of the book is almost complete, so there are only a few weeks to get in touch. Thank you!