How to Future-Proof the Reputation of Your Business

Created: Monday, March 25, 2019, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am

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By David Solomon, co-founder of Blueprints

Let’s face it, history has a habit of looking unfavorably towards individuals and corporations who don’t hold up to the scrutiny of modern morality. This is evidenced by the demonization of all slave traders, colonizers and sexual exploiters of history, who often were simply doing what was ‘perfectly legal’ in their period of history.

It’s hard to say how history will look back at us now, but the signs are there. Our descendants will be astounded by our generation’s wasteful nature, horrified that we’re so destructive to our own planet, that we didn’t act on climate change, that we were so overtly misogynistic and racist. And with history moving faster than ever before, I believe we will look back with disbelief in as little as a decade.

So what can we do to make sure we are on the right side of history, especially when ethical moorings will change as soon as 2030?

Do What’s Right Not Just What’s Negotiable

Believing that everything is negotiable is a hangover from the ‘80s business ethos of dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest. However, the economy is not a zero-sum game, and getting one over on your partners/clients/customers simply creates a net loss for society. This is also a breeding ground for unsustainable growth, which has led to us pillaging our planet.

I strongly feel that we could resolve many of the problems in the world if we simply re-framed how we approached a negotiation, thinking about the human and societal implications of the agreements we reach, rather than just the bottom line.

How Would Your Customers React of They Saw Your Decisions in the Paper?

In the modern age, ill intent has few places to hide. In just a few years, we’ve come from minuscule recording equipment being the stuff of governments and spies to almost every human on earth having a tiny personal recording device that can instantly share content across the entire planet. Who knows what technology will be developed in the future? What we do know is that it will likely make it even harder for the morally abject to hide.

The only solution to survival in this always-recording milieu is to act with empathy for your stakeholders in every decision you make. How would they react if your opinions or actions were plastered across the homepage of the Huffington Post?

Measure Your Company by More Than Just Its Ability to Make Money

I predict that history won’t look too kindly on the companies that passively played the game of making endless profits without actively seeking to improve the lives of their employees and customers.

Some argue that we’re moving into a period of post-capitalism, where markets still drive the economy, but intelligent machines are able to overlay human well-being as a significant factor to ensure the destructive nature of unfettered free markets is reigned in. In this scenario, it’s possible to imagine that we program these machines to be optimized not just for profit but also for the quality of life of all stakeholders within a company – i.e. directors, employees, partners, suppliers, shareholders and customers, all in one go.

The interesting thing about this idea is that you don’t need to invest heavily into artificial intelligence to future-proof your organisation for post-capitalism, you just need to start thinking about how you can improve the lives of every person your company touches.

But despite the progress we’ve made as a society, it’s not all optimistic. I predict that unless they change their ways, history won’t look kindly at Walmart, Sports Direct and Amazon, but conversely it will at Riverford, John Lewis and Google.

Will Your Decision Still Be Seen as Fair and Just in 2030?

I believe the next #MeToo movement is likely to come from the world of global business, where company directors have allowed so many workers to be exploited in developing nations through low pay and frankly life-threatening working conditions. Additionally they have made decisions that have caused untold damage to the environments of developing nations.

I can envision a time in the near future where whistle-blowers call out their bosses when they make morally abject decisions that affect the lives of workers overseas.

Now imagine it’s 2030 and environmentalism, economic justice, and true social/gender/racial equality aren’t just fringe ideas, but are the mainstream. Will your decisions hold up to scrutiny, or will you be held to account by your colleagues, and ultimately the general public? Will you be safe from #DecisionsHaveConsequences?

Follow Your Moral Compass

Another thing history won’t look favorably on is the billionaires who hoarded wealth rather than reinvesting it, who facilitated the greatest gap in wealth distribution the planet has ever experienced. I left the world of banking because the system was broken, that it was designed to help drive wealth to the top and keep the rest of us blinded to how inequitable it actually is.

I realized I could apply my knowledge of economics and finance to help regions that have been exploited, rather than continue to be part of that exploitation. I also realized that taking a long term, sustainable approach to the economic development of these resource-rich regions would help facilitate greater wealth generation for all, in a way that works in harmony with nature instead of against it. I co-founded Blueprints because in my gut I knew it was the right thing to do, and that I didn’t need to compromise on being rewarded financially for my efforts – indeed the more successful I am, the more successful others become with me.

So what is your intuition telling you? Are you helping to generate wealth symbiotically for yourself and for those less fortunate, in a way that’s harmonious with nature? Or are you purposely holding back others in a hollow pursuit of wealth or status, with little regard for what state you might leave the planet in for future generations? I predict that history will judge those who are dishonest with themselves by much higher standards than we currently feel are acceptable.

David Solomon
David Solomon is co-founder of Blueprints, a fintech platform for economic development that connects brands and businesses with local producers and manufacturers. Blueprints exists to promote a new economic model that leads to a more sustainable and equitable society.

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