Why is a company like EY involved in the arena of social entrepreneurship?
A question frequently asked to me. The answer from my perspective is easy and logical, however as the question keeps coming back to me, I’ve realized that it might not be logical for everyone. Read along while I lead you through my thoughts as reflected in this blog.
OPINION | by Carolien Gadella-van Wersch – Senior Manager | Cleantech and Sustainability Services |
| Ernst & Young Accountants
What would the short answer be? Working in the arena of social entrepreneurship is good for business. That’s the part people understand because the assumption is that otherwise a company like EY would not be in involved. And they are right. But the question that remains is why it’s good for business. There are several reasons, but I focus here on the three most important ones. Social entrepreneurship means:
1) staying relevant and profitable in the long-term
2) attracting and retaining international top talent
3) gaining creativity, fun and inspiration.
How to stay relevant and profitable in the long-term
Social Entrepreneurs in general share some characteristics which traditional financially-driven companies do not (yet) have. Characteristics which might be labeled in the near future as critical success factors for running a successful business. If you look at social enterprises through the lens of Effectuation (Sarasvasthy, 2001) – a study contending that entrepreneurs use effectuation over causation in their approach and the reason to start solving specific cases – it becomes clear that most of those principles are worth a further look for business-as-usual. Take the ‘The Lemonade Principle’ in which entrepreneurs will look at how to leverage contingencies. Surprises are not necessarily seen as something bad, but as opportunities to find new markets. Social entrepreneurs show a consistent drive to reach their goals. In general, they think in terms of opportunities instead of challenges. They share knowledge, actively seek for partners and are not drawn back by ‘old system’ thinking. Companies like EY can learn valuable lessons from such entrepreneurial approaches, while going into a new economy where (social) entrepreneurs like Uber, AirBnB, Ignia, New Leaf Paper or Tony’s Chocolonely prove to be successful. Not the traditional corporations. To maintain your relevancy while in business with them, it is obvious critical to understand the drivers, goals and critical success factors of these emerging players in the market.
Social entrepreneurship attracts and shows how to maintain top talent
The Millennials – or Generation Y – are different than other generations. More than 60 percent of Millennials say they’d rather earn $40,000 per year in a job they love than $100,000 in one that is not in line with their sense of purpose. Millennials are a highly values-driven generation, specifically in terms of the values that authors Winograd and Hais call “civic” values: the values that relate to good citizenship. Millennials are concerned with more than political and ethical issues. They also care about what’s genuine and authentic. Comparing to other generations Millennials integrate beliefs and causes into their choice of company to support or work for – proved again by recent research by the Boston Consultancy Group (red. BCG is program partner in Impact Hub’s Investment Ready Program). Any company that wants to attract and maintain the talents of Generation Y needs to be genuine in their involvement in and commitment to purpose-led organizations and causes. Generally speaking, all social enterprises are purpose-led; they thrive by having a commercial vision on how to have a positive impact on society.
Added value of creativity, fun and inspiration
Last, but not least important, working with and for social entrepreneurs is fun. The field is full of challenges, and lots of creativity and inspiration. And in a world that burns with a desire for you and me to solve the most pressing issues in our society, it’s becoming more important to nurture and stimulate positivity in your daily life. I see this enthusiasm with my colleagues when they’re giving masterclasses in the Scaling program of the Impact Hub. We feel privileged to bring their expertise and experiences to entrepreneurs that will use this knowledge to positively contribute to society.
So, why are companies like EY actively involved? It’s good for business, good for the people working within the business and good for all of us within society. That’s what I call a triple-win!