Making Business Do Better for Everyone

Making Business Do Better for Everyone

Attitudes and expectations about the role of business in society are changing dramatically. The impact of business on the environment (and the consequences of that impact for humanity) are issues of vital importance to many corporate constituencies. Today, however, many more purely social concerns are coming strongly to the fore.

Among employees, new patterns of working and the growing presence of automation and AI are creating insecurity and anxiety, even as labor markets are sometimes empowering workers to make new demands. More and more customers (particularly millennials and members of Gen Z) now make decisions about what products to buy or not to buy based on companies’ performance not only on environmental issues but also on social ones—such as labor standards; human rights; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); health; and product safety. And the public at large increasingly believes that businesses need to do more to address social issues.

Business leaders have clearly gotten the message from these corporate stakeholders. In a Bain survey asking global CEOs what they see as the primary role of their businesses, 60% said either “balancing the needs of all stakeholders” or creating “positive outcomes for society.” And more than 85% of these business leaders called social issues urgent concerns for their companies.