I don’t want to run for public office, but I want to have an impact on my community, or maybe even society as a whole. And I believe that’s possible.
I’ve had this discussion with friends of mine who are business owners or leaders, declaring that I don’t think we have to be elected officials to create significant positive change. I believe that businesses, under the guidance of thoughtful leaders, can powerfully impact society, while also making money. What I really mean is that I think we can change the world, and I have every intention of doing just that.
Howard Schultz once announced a Starbucks initiative called “Race Together,” which is intended to spark conversation about race relations in America. You could argue that this is a PR move, but I think that Schultz is exactly the kind of thoughtful leader who sees an opportunity to improve the world and not just his bottom line. He’s doing it by encouraging discussion, creating conversation, opening up dialogue…over a cup of coffee. I understand the debate against this effort, but I applaud Schultz’s interest in improving the world, while most business leaders are interested only in improving their cash flow.
Facebook also launched a new version of its community standards. Same thing. Zuckerberg and team are changing the world by saying that some things (e.g. hate speak, bullying, intolerance) just aren’t acceptable and won’t be permitted.
My own company tries to change the world through perhaps simpler efforts. Our Happiness Counts™ program is an effort to wake companies up to the idea that treating employees like people and supporting their happiness is the right thing to do. Our Think-A-Thon says to the world that we have an opportunity and obligation to use our talents for good not just for profit. And our 40 Hour Sabbatical says that we can change people’s lives by helping them realize their dreams.
My mother would be so proud if I were elected mayor or senator or president, but I believe that I can change my community and the world by using the resources and the voice I have here (sorry mom). I believe that businesses can change the world for the better simply by leading according to our values and seizing the opportunities at hand.