- The Director of Sistema B and Accion Empresas explains that today, citizens are asking companies, in addition to financial results or the right product, to be part of the solution to social and environmental issues.
The effects of coronavirus mark the economic context, which has had an unexpected impact on countries, companies, and individuals. However, many see an opportunity in times of crisis. Nicolas Morales, CEO of Pegas con Sentido and BGift, director of Sistema B in Chile and Accion Empresas, talks to us.
You have led business ventures where social and environmental purposes are d business ventures where social and environmental purposes are always present. Can that principle be maintained in times of economic crisis?
I think that in times of crisis is where it is most needed. Today, citizens, consumers, and workers no longer demand only financial results or good productst in times of crisis is where it is most needed. Today, citizens, consumers, and workers no longer demand only financial results or good products and services, but that these be part of the solution to social and environmental problems.
While facing a complex economic scenario, is there still a chance for entrepreneurs and innovators?
It is in these moments when entrepreneurs have to come out. We have to stop seeing it as times of trouble, but as times filled with opportunity. It is now that we innovators have to start coming up with unique value proposals. It is now when we have to reconnect with the essential questions to evolve our business model.
We must always do this in collaboration, always with others, always through an ecosystem, understanding that the role played by large companies, government, entrepreneurs, foundations, is extremely important. We understand that today, we focus on solving problems more than just creating business models that can be scalable.
Sustainability, a competitive advantage
For Morales, Corporate Social Responsibility is how companies, through an external area, take steps towards helping society. He recalls that many aid initiatives involving the building of shelters or painting of schools often began in the marketing areas of companies, revealing that the focus of these efforts was more about showing their charitable contributions rather than an inherent interest to contribute to society. This stresses the current need not only to show financial results but also to back it up with responsible business models demanded by society, workers, and the environment.
Many still talk about Corporate Social Responsibility; however, you propose to move to the concept of Sustainability. What is the difference?
What we propose is to envision a world in which businesses have to be part of the solution. We have to turn our Core Business around and start having an impact, where we do not need a department in charge of supporting communities or the environment, but the company itself does it.
Our Sustainability dream is that business models stop being subsidized by workers or the environment, and instead, be established servicing society for what it needs. What sustainability proposes is a triple impact: social, environmental, and economical. It is not enough to have financial results anymore; models must also be responsible to society, workers, and the environment.
Is sustainability a competitive advantage?
Nowadays, yes. Workers aiming not only for that paycheck at the end of the month but also wanting to have an impact and transcend beyond work is one of the best value proposals we push for. Workers seek organizations and jobs where their values are in line with that of the organization, where they can be part of a much larger purpose.
On the other hand, consumers are rewarding companies that are doing things right. We see how communities have become essential, relevant actors to big projects' decision-making. It is not enough to be a big company anymore. You have to take charge.
In that same context, do companies with a culture of cooperation and collaboration alongside external organizations currently have an advantage?
I believe that the challenges we are facing today are so significant that associations made up by entrepreneurs or leaders cannot work unaided. The only way we can respond to the challenges before us is by working with others. I genuinely believe that radical collaboration will be a way of operating, which means that we bring together two competing working organizations forcing them to collaborate. My idea is that when we begin to collaborate, we will stop competing for that sought-after piece of cake and, instead, open a bakery together.
Talent decides where to work
Nicolas Morales' company, Pegas con Sentido, is a human resources consultancy specialized in professional management, which seeks to generate a positive impact on society, where people and companies work for the world with clear principles that include social, economic and environmental aspects. In its ten years of existence, its founder has seen an evolution in which it is no longer the company that necessarily looks for the person, but the person who chooses where to work.
How is this affected by a company's motivation to capture new talent?
Twenty years ago, one was most grateful to the company that hired you. You felt that they were doing you a favor; you thought that you had to keep "the job" as long as possible because perhaps you were being given a chance that may never come again. Today, I see a change in society, where we see the best talents choosing where with whom and for whom to work.
Change is also reflected in the notion that working fulltime for a company is not the only way anymore. Now you have the option to start a business, provide freelance services to different organizations, and collaborate with NGOs, among others. In the last five years, we have been alongside entrepreneurs helping them redefine and rediscover their aims. It will be much easier to attract, retain, and motivate talent when you have a clear purpose that creates value proposals, products, and services associated with that purpose.
What characteristics must a company have to exploit them to their full potential?
First, empower the team. If I, as a boss, want to empower my team, I have to be available to lose power.
The second thing is to align them to a common purpose, to realize that we are all trying to work towards solving a social or environmental problem. Not only do we focus on the end of the month results, but also we start asking ourselves questions that we did not ask before, for example, how our way of working is generating a positive impact on others.
The third thing is to see that organizations have to be more and more horizontal. Today, there is not just one boss who makes all the decisions, but there are work teams that move around in leadership spaces, depending on what is needed.
And, finally, it is necessary to realize that the way of working has changed. You have to give your team the freedom to work wherever they want, not to have to measure their performance by the number of hours they work, but more by the goals they achieve, which allows you to have a much more motivated team.