Creating Sustainable Communities

January 16th, 2014 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on Creating Sustainable Communities

Harish ManwaniHow does your business give back to the community that sustains it? That’s the question that Harish Manwani (COO of Unilever) poses to us in his short 8-minute TED Talk below. He argues that our business model must change from one in which profit is the main focus to a model by which companies look beyond the money to ask, “how can we best serve the communities that sustain us?” Manwani goes on to say that, “business can no longer survive and just be about creating economic value for their company. We must also be about the business of sustaining and growing our communities.”

And how does he propose that we do this? Through leadership! We need leadership that understands that what truly drives business is values and purpose. That is what will sustain both the business and the community where it resides.

Often, when we talk about companies giving back to their communities or getting involved in philanthropy, the conversation tends to dwell on huge multinational corporations with thousands of employees and millions of dollars at their disposal. In reality, the vast majority of the businesses in the United States are small businesses, and they employ over 50% of the nation’s workers. While smaller businesses may not be able to match the massive amounts donated by huge corporations, they still can have a substantial impact on their local communities.

And while your community benefits, so does your business. We often tend to focus on the publicity that we receive as a primary benefit of giving back to our community, but, if we are truly going to be a part of sustaining our communities through business involvement, then the PR must be secondary. If you are working towards making your community a better place and a more sustainable home… that’s the reward. That’s the beauty of your involvement.

Keep in mind that the people who work for your business are likely from the very same community in which your company is located, so many local causes will be dear to their hearts. This can actually make giving back to the community a strong team-building and morale-boosting experience for everyone involved.

And in the natural foods industry, we can’t just rely on the notion that selling healthy foods helps promote and create sustainability. That’s not what’s we’re talking about here… we’re talking about going beyond the products we sell and focusing on what is needed in our specific communities.

Mr. Manwani’s talk is short and inspiring. If more businesses (both large and small) move towards the model he prescribes, then our communities will indeed change. And, if our communities change, then yes… so to will the world change. That’s just how it works. It’s a beautiful model.
So… what will you do today to change the world? As a start, take 8 minutes out of your day to watch Mr. Manwani’s talk.
Have a beautiful weekend!