Now is the time for us to think about the correlation between social good and economic reward in the 21st century—and then act upon itby Joanna George / May 15, 2020 / Leave a comment
Can you explain what value your work adds to the greater good of society and the environment? If not, why not? This question will be more uncomfortable for some than it is for others. It is asked against the backdrop of a global health pandemic, which has seen “key” workers such as doctors, nurses, teachers, transport and utility workers treated as heroes, held in high regard and valued by all. They look after us in times of medical need, have taught us and inspire our children’s interests and passions. They enable us to travel to see friends and loved ones, and deliver our cherished packages and post from afar. They have a profound impact on how well we live our lives.
So why then, if they provide us with the most valued services and add to the greater good of society, do they tend to be the lowest paid? What signal does this send to younger generations who are passionate about careers within these important fields, but who are rightly concerned about the low economic value these jobs are given?
In a recent article for The Times, John Kampfner stated that there was “something tempting” about determining the social value of work. Even before the pandemic, millennials and younger generations were already placing more value on the social purpose of a job, weighing up a company’s social and environmental record when making employment decisions. A recent PWC Workforce of the future survey found that prioritising the purpose, meaning and relevance of work—and seeing a world where “the human comes first”—will be the norm by 2030. Companies that do not will become both socially and economically irrelevant. Over the past 40 years, private organisations have slowly started integrating this concept by teaming up with charities, undertaking philanthropic work and promoting corporate social responsibility programmes. Covid-19 may accelerate this trend and make demonstrating social responsibility a mandatory rule for companies, rather than an optional one.
Companies that have put in the effort to assist in the Covid-19 crisis—such as Pret a Manger, which has donated food items to charities and hospitals—will be better placed to bounce back and reap financial rewards once the crisis calms down. It pays,…