Doing Well While Doing Good

“Can companies do well by doing good?” That was the question posed by Harvard Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, in her September 2010 MIT Sloan Management Review article. She highlighted that just donating money may be good, but should not be expected to provide a company strategic advantage. She went on to say,

But if a company can integrate the benefits that it offers society more closely into its existing business, that integration can be very sensible and beneficial for the business.

This societal benefit can be related to a “green” design or the quality of the goods produced. It can also be related to the support of the local community through jobs and wages.

We’ve all seen job-creating efforts come-and-go, as they’ve been built around artificial needs. They provided temporary benefit, but returned the workers to their initial no-job state at their conclusion. Such work is provides temporary money to the community, but doesn’t address underlying unemployment / under-employment issues.

An alternative is to identify structured, well-defined jobs within companies that would normally require special training and experience levels of one or two years. These would not be new, temporary jobs, but jobs that are part of the regular business operations. Such jobs could be assigned to teams of apprentices, each guided by a mentor. Unlike make-work job efforts, these initiatives would provide hands-on training to those motivated, inexperienced workers and would lift them into a productive work “experienced” status. More than 84% of the job openings for 2- and 4-year college grads in the Portland Tri-County area require experience.

Apprenticeship-mentorship programs would provide that badly needed experience for these resource groups.

The host/sponsor companies could also realize reduced labor costs by utilizing apprentice-mentor teams instead of the traditional temp-workers while providing an opportunity for experience and on-the-job training to the local, entry-level IT labor force. These companies would be “doing well” for their stakeholders “while doing good” for their communities.

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How to Do Well and Do Good” by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration. MIT Sloan Management Review 51, no. 2 (September 2010).

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