Businesses which hope to succeed in the coming decade have to think of themselves and their actions in a context much broader than they're used to, as part of the fabric of society, not as sovereigns over some commercial fiefdom. Smart business leaders seem increasingly to know this. They are beginning to convert their corporations into a new type of entity, one which sees changing the world as the avenue to profits – the transcommercial enterprise.
In short, there is a transformation afoot, and four forces drive it:
The first force is efficiency. It is inefficient over the long term to pollute, waste energy and mistreat workers. Study after study has shown that many, if not most, socially- and environmentally-desirable goals can be pursued by companies in ways which make them not only better corporate citizens (with happier workers and neighbors) but more competitive.
The second force is the rise of investors, lenders and institutional customers which demand social responsibility.
Funds basing investment decisions on whether a given company is socially responsible and accountable for its behavior now total at least twelve percent, and perhaps as much as twenty percent, of the total capital available in the United States. That's a lot of money. As just one example, the Carbon Disclosure Project, representing 75 institutional investors with more than $7 trillion in assets, has demanded that every Fortune 500 company release an audit of its greenhouse gas emissions and commit to reductions plans.
Transparency, the third force, is making corporate behavior is visible as never before.
Corporations can now build fairly intimate relationships with customers. We all know that corporations are honing their marketing research down to us as individuals, amassing data on our preferences and buying patterns, trying to anticipate our needs But we don't often think about how this truth extends two ways: we're more and more informed about the goods we buy and the companies which make them. Intimacy goes both ways.
In a transparent world, your company can't beat 'em with secrecy, and if you're smart, you won't try: instead, you'll invite them to join you, and collaborate. Indeed, the explosion in collaboration itself – the Tech Bloom – is the fourth and perhaps most powerful force.
The "Tech Bloom" describes the universe of noncommercial, collaborative, distributed networks which form, fade, and re-form around a whole variety of socially-advantageous goals. These networks first emerged in software, where they've built operating systems like Linux at dizzying speed, with unmatched complexity and quality. But the paradigm is rapidly spreading to enfold all sorts of technical projects, from sustainable energy systems to medical technologies for the developing world. It's even sweeping through non-technical arenas. Nets of people are now translating schoolbooks into underserved foreign languages, building online collaborative encyclopedias and creating democratic news services.
- The Transcommercial Enterprise @ worldchanging.com