In our daily lives, businesses have an immediate impact on our environment, our well-being, even on how we can give life to our values! We need to trust business. They have the power to transform our world. They have a societal role that we, citizens, have given them. Without us, none of the corporations would prosper. Public value goes beyond the concept of customers’ values: it addresses the societal role that business was offered to grow around the world.
We have seen the world changing at fast pace and distrust towards government and business becoming widespread. With the collapse of trust, most citizens lack full belief that the system is working for them. In this climate, people’s societal and economic concerns turn into fears, feeding the rise of populist actions in Europe and other Western democracies. Business also has a role to play.
To rebuild trust and restore faith in the system, corporations must step outside of their traditional roles and work toward a new, more integrated operating model that puts people at the center of everything they do. To develop collaboration in times of disruption, one needs to focus on dialogue, active listening, and empathy.
What does this mean in real terms?
We want business to bring solutions to the problems and injustice we witness all around us. Governments are doing their part by designing policies and passing legislation. Now is the time for all of us to help bring change, and that includes the private sector. Now is the time for business to bring positive change to our daily lives.
We’ve seen a shift recently in the paradigm of accountability. For big companies, it is no longer enough to be compliant with international and national laws – in most cases, the public requests that audited reports be easy to access and easy to understand. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) no longer depends on how corporations define it, but on how others see them. To build trust, the OECD shows, corporate values need to be accepted and implemented by all, inside and outside corporations, all the way down to supply chains. As citizens, stakeholders have developed a sense of purposefulness: they expect corporations to stimulate the public good and accept their input. They want to collaborate and connect. Collaboration has become essential to any corporation’s sustainability.
This new understanding of accountability and transparency, added to the need for openness, inclusiveness and collaboration leads to a change in mindsets, and in some cases, changes in corporate strategies. The good news is that such change in mindsets can help manage this shift and avoid disruption. It can even turn disruption into a growth opportunity.
The question remains of who should take the lead for change. At Your Public Value, in addition to CEOs, we believe that it is the role of marketing departments to articulate and activate the company’s purpose both outside and inside. Recent data have shown that customer engagement and alignment of values are a lot more efficient than sole advertising. Communicators need to make sure that consumers know about their company’s corporate values and understand how they relate to their personal ones.
Outside the company, communicators need to consistently show how their company is following through on its value promise. And internally, they need to activate the corporate values and craft a culture that promotes the brand values to assure full alignment.
Consumers have high expectations for companies to make positive change, but they understand that they have a role to play as well. Inviting them to collaborate transforms relationships and amplifies the positive social impact. Dialogue between business and society is what is needed.
Public value as an approach to survive disruption
Surviving disruption takes building a different mindset and a different strategic and operational framework. It takes more than being a purpose-driven company or developing a stakeholder approach. Collective interest is about public value. It’s about taking care of more than just business. It’s more than treating people and the planet well; it’s about proving that business can be a force for positive change in the world.
Public value considers that businesses fulfil a societal function. Society provides corporations with the mandate to exist in exchange for a positive contribution. Contributing to society becomes not only the responsibility of any company or corporation, but also a pre-condition for profit and ultimately for legitimacy and long-term survival.
Public value is an approach that combines active public participation with transparency and accountability. Public value considers both society and the environment as active stakeholders being the sources of legitimacy and support of any public or private organization as they sustain loyalty, drive competitiveness and profitability. To grow legitimacy and increase trust, corporations need to maintain contact with ALL parts of their ecosystem.
Through dialogue and participation. By considering ALL citizens as active stakeholders. We want businesses to listen and talk to us. If they care about us, we can shape a better future TOGETHER.
Come and join us. We’re a non-profit lab and we enable dialogue between businesses and society.
Your Public Value wishes you a 2018 year, full of transparent, dialogue, and participation.