The purpose imperative: Business for good
If the past year has taught us anything, it is that technology represents our greatest opportunity to solve the biggest challenges facing our customers, the planet, and society.
Since the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, technology has been at the forefront of solving the world’s most pressing problems – from vaccine development to telehealth to work from home and distance learning, to home delivery of everything.
Our industry has a unique opportunity — and great responsibility — to use technology for good to create a positive, lasting impact on humankind and the planet by advancing sustainability, driving diversity and inclusion, and upholding a commitment to ethics and privacy.
These kinds of social impact initiatives are not only the right things to do, they are a business imperative, a key differentiator for customers and employees.
Today, more than ever before, customers seek purpose-driven vendors that share their values. From my own experience and from recognized research, I know that a company’s sustainable business practices, or lack thereof, influence the customer’s decision, and brands that demonstrate commitment to sustainability outperform those that don’t.
In fact, at Dell Technologies, current and potential customers regularly request social impact reports; it’s standard practice in RFPs. Our customers and employees care about the environment and feel a responsibility to protect and enrich our planet—and they buy accordingly. For our customers, our business, and our planet, we must constantly innovate to reduce our footprint on the planet.
In particular, technology companies have a responsibility to address e-waste, one of the fastest-growing waste streams in the world today. In fact, less than 20% of electronics are responsibly recycled, so it is imperative that we design products with the entire lifecycle in mind, reusing precious materials and recycling responsibly.
To protect the planet and lower our carbon and water footprint, we must declare appropriate standards and vigorous goals, hold ourselves — and our partners and suppliers — to those standards, and report transparently on our processes and progress.
Diversity & Inclusion
The 2019 Dell Technologies Social Impact Study revealed that customers and employees want to see themselves reflected in your business and operations, and I have seen firsthand that teams that champion racial and gender equity and different backgrounds will far outperform those that don’t. They’re better at considering all customers, they create better solutions, and they deliver more inventive products. In short, diversity of backgrounds, perspectives, and ethnicities makes your business more competitive.
To meet the future talent shortage, we must expand the talent pipeline in the tech industry and recruit traditionally underrepresented groups. STEM programs in schools and Employee Resource Groups that bring together team members with common interests or backgrounds can help build an inclusive culture in both your pipeline and workplace. These kinds of initiatives create business opportunities, drive innovation, and develop inspiring leaders.
From my own experience, I know that prospective employees request and consider our social impact programs and metrics. When my team members feel valued and included, they report higher work satisfaction, stay longer, and recruit additional talent from their own networks.
Ethics & Privacy
Foundational to driving social impact is a commitment to ethics and privacy. The human impact of information collection and use is profound, and to safeguard customers and society, we must protect privacy as a fundamental right and report transparently on how customers’ data is collected, used, and shared.
Companies should communicate expectations to employees, partners, and vendors through a clear Code of Conduct and frequent Ethics and Compliance training. Igniting a passion for integrity and transparency and driving a high standard of responsibility are paramount in today’s data-driven world They’re also essential to capturing and expanding customers’ and employees’ trust and loyalty.
In my experience, when you focus on purpose, people, and process, profits follow. When you show up for your customers and community and choose to do the right thing the right way, your business benefits as your employees, customers, and stakeholders buy into not only what you do, but also how you do it.
It’s simple: People want to do business with good, honest people, and customers want to see themselves reflected in your purpose, organization, people, and culture. Creating a positive, lasting social impact is the right thing for companies to do —and it’s vital to your company’s future.
About the author
Senior Vice President at Dell Technologies Cheryl Cook spearheads development and strategy for the Global Partner Marketing organization, including branding, partner program marketing, channel events, partner communications, and MDF/BDF program investments and execution. She also drives long-term partner marketing strategy, together with Global Alliances, OEM, and global and regional business teams. A vocal advocate for the partner community, Cheryl is a 20+ year partner veteran, known as an innovative, collaborative leader who creates compelling business solutions that accelerate partners’ success. Connect with Cheryl on LinkedIn and Twitter.