What responsibility do companies have for the development of society?
Traditionally, a company's overall goal is to meet the interests of its owners, an interest that is usually equated to maximizing profits. However, this idea is being challenged and questioned more and more – a notable example is the Davos meeting's manifesto from January this year.
Focusing on short-term gains and quarterly reports can have negative effects on socially important issues such as health, sustainability and the environment. Therefore, fewer and fewer consumers are interested in purchasing products and services from companies that do not relate to sustainability and social aspects.
The supply of skills is also dependent on these factors – companies that want to attract the best talent must activate other drivers than financial gain.
There are several examples of ongoing change. The most influential American business lobby group, the US Business Roundtable, announced in 2019 that they would formally adopt a stakeholder model instead of the traditional ownership model. Leaders for 181 companies in the US signed the announcement, which means that they will continue to protect all stakeholders in their business operations, ie customers, employees, suppliers and social functions.
My call for companies that want to work more sustainably within their ecosystem is to go in depth to understand the environment. You need to understand how your business affects customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders. You also need to learn from the surrounding community and culture – see how it has changed in just a few years! Only then can you make business decisions that are based on how the entire ecosystem is affected and not just the shareholders.
I look forward to meeting Automation Region members at the Annual Meeting on March 25 for a continuing conversation on technology, ethics and sustainability. See you there!
National Technology and Security Manager at Microsoft Sweden