Not just supplying products, but taking on a different role, a "social responsibility": this is the new path that companies must follow, developing relationships with the current and potential market.
by Remo Lucchi, president of the Advisory board of Eumetra Mr
We are going through a period of great social evolution, like never before. And the hypotheses, moreover, show a further evolutionary speed for the future. Problematic evolution, if one is not careful. The protagonists change, expectations change.
All of this has a high impact on businesses. There is growing anticipation for a social role of companies broader and more articulated, which certainly goes beyond the classic objectives of supplying goods/products/services.
In short, we analyze the triggering causes and the social consequences, and then focus on the role of companies.
Upstream of the pandemic and Ukraine, which have in any case created further tension, a new phenomenology has developed in recent years, which we have already spoken of several times in other circumstances, but which is worth returning to, given its relevance ( in the sense that it had never happened in history).
We come from a historical era that has always been characterized by a society made up of one tiny elitist section which has always managed all forms of power, and by a large majority of "uncultured masses", without any aspiration of social protagonism.
The only goal of these masses: a little money. There were no individualities. Above all, those who had little money believed that the only practicable force was that produced by union, and that the translation into the political sphere was sharing; therefore, not individuality, but egalitarian society, communism.
But in the last 20 years something has happened that most people have missed. The new generations have entered adulthood with a completely different culture. It had never happened. They certainly didn't complete their studies, but arriving – almost all – at a maturity, they have acquired their own “individuality”. No more masses: everyone was an "individual", with his own decent critical capacity.
But at the same time some phenomenologies have intertwined, creating complex problems, as a consequence of a goal that has sensationally failed.
Let's see the sequence, briefly:
- having studied – albeit incompletely – has triggered a desire for social protagonism as had never happened in the past. Desire for horizontality, for inclusion, for participation.
- We didn't realize that - for these goals - the training should not have been interrupted, and that one maturity was not enough. The expectations of individual protagonism had remained very high.
- But the globalization and the miscellaneous crisis financial that have followed have prevented these new generations from participating. They have fallen into a complex precariousness, with often growing difficulties. However, given the illusions that had been created, this precariousness was not suffered in a resigned way, as happened in the past, but with growing anger and tensions.
- Hence the desire to defend one's own individuality, to have anyway rights participatory, which then provoked phenomenologies of nationalism, opposition, populism, with a political position opposite to that of previous generations (before there were communities, now there are individuals).
- The topic is very complex, because among the various troubles, this phenomenology also reduces sensitivity to the issue of sustainability; danger that must be absolutely avoided. On the other hand it is "understandable", almost like a natural fact: if people are not feeling well, first of all the goal is personal well-being as soon as possible. The theme of sustainability, i.e. the future well-being of those who will come, certainly does not have priority for them.
The desired solutions
The situation described, characterized by contrasts growing, it is believed that it obviously needs to be addressed. The solution to these problems calls for aid, logic of relationality and alliance, and not oppositions.
There is little hope that the State, and the Governments that follow each other with impressive speed, plan to propose solutions: in 75 years – from the launch of the Constitution to today – about 70 governments have succeeded each other. The hypothesis that is made is that everything is conditioned by partisan conveniences, and that the project to develop a medium-long term objective for the country does not exist, that is, it is not part of our culture politics.
The solution that is increasingly emerging is reliance on the economic system, albeit in a broader evolutionary logic. The basic credibility is grafted onto the fact that we are all able to live because the economic system exists, which offers us goods-products-services-work and money.
However, a further request is maturing. While it is now taken for granted that companies develop their business in a substantially serious way, it is believed that their goal must increasingly also take into consideration the development of relatedness with its current and potential market: that is, not only supplying products, but increasingly assuming the role of proposing something else, which can be inscribed in the assumption of social responsability.
That is, investing in people, helping them to get better in various ways. It would, however, not be a cost, but an investment: the more you act in the most desirable way, the more you will have interesting returns.
The logic is very simple. Individuals have – as we have seen – a growing critical capacity, they feel less and less dependent even on companies, they demand true horizontality. They want to consider the company as a full-fledged partner with whom to trade. And given the fact that the various products of the various companies are and will always be of similar value, the choice will move more and more towards the sense of values of the Company, ie towards its ability to be an interesting "life interlocutor".
In this perspective it is assumed that the social role of the company will be increasingly important, just as its communicational activism will be increasingly important. Communication is relationship, which is the basic component of life. And people want to live.
There are various areas of social commitment required of companies. They can be summarized in three main areas:
- Great attention to the environment;
- Strong attention to the social problems of the territory in which it operates, also assuming social responsibilities, offering contributions of various kinds;
- Strong investment in workers, for their growth as individuals, and by creating skills, primarily for their personal well-being, but also for returns to the company.
The first scope – environment – it is taken for granted.
On the second theme – assumption of social responsibility – we have already mentioned it, even if it is a topic that is not easy to solve, given the diversity of expectations of the various segments of the public. It is a subject to be studied carefully - also depending on one's current and prospective positioning – without the difficulties leading to postponement.
Let's focus instead on the third scope – that of investment in workers. It is perhaps the most important, taking into account the social problems that have been mentioned, and presupposes a fundamental attention to the well-being, especially for the work-life balance, with also strong attention to training of employees, for their well-being, both personal and professional.
Well-being – as mentioned earlier – is a fundamental theme, to avoid conflicts with the sustainability. And the role of companies is increasingly fundamental, given the fact that no one else is planning interventions to grow individuals.
And the growth of the person – both as an individual, and as professional – represents from all points of view the real great goal:
- Improve the Enterprise, having a double return, both for the better professionalism of the workers, and for the gratitude of the workers, who have enjoyed the investment in them, and the implicit returns;
- It also improves the social context, because the individuals who compose it are happier and less dedicated to contrasts. The values of positive relationality are triggered, which produce a happy life.
And happy life – individual well-being – as has been said, it is the basic condition for all individuals to feel themselves bearers of sustainability, which is the great goal: that life is happy in the future too, for oneself and for those who will come. We reiterate: if there is no current well-being, there can be no investment in the future. Social research confirms it: anyone who is not happy does not want to hear about sustainability.
So current Wellness is the real investment in the future.
In all of this reasoning, positive relatedness is the fundamental method, and the true great support of relationality is communication: without communication relationality is not created.
Ultimately, without the enterprise and its well-being, relational and communicational activities, there can be no happy future. So "Enterprise is the real engine of happiness".