During my time in Executive Search, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing brilliant people every day. Amidst a ‘war for talent’, I didn’t experience a shortage of talent. What I found was a shortage of great companies that deserved great talent. I didn’t appreciate the urgent need to address this until I received a link to water poverty.
There was a water privatisation deal where the tariffs set were too high for some members of the community to afford. The result? The water supply was cut off. One of the consequences? Little girls being bullied and teased at school for being dirty. What confounded me? The company leading the transaction had a link on their website to CSR (corporate social responsibility). I ask you, how can a company’s business practices cause harm but they have a department ‘to do good’?
It got me thinking about the people leading the transaction and the company’s strategy and modus operandi. Having interviewed many Investment Bankers, I knew that none of the ones I helped my clients hire would ever have been so short-sighted, so irresponsible. Moreover, my clients would never have accepted them.
So what was creating this? How was business impacting society? How can we improve things?
Many companies have compelling mission statements, well-articulated values and CSR initiatives. But what truly matters is what a company and its people do in practice.
I explored water poverty – what’s causing it, who it’s impacting and what needs to be done to solve it. I was saddened by what I found, from questionable policies and poor principles to bad practices, misaligned performance metrics and poor decisions. The crux of it all? People and organisations – their collective mindset and motivations, their actions and inactions.
But I also found some great companies with incredible people doing a lot of good. These weren’t charities. They were profitable commercial entities (including banks). I studied these companies and profiled their people. The findings were extraordinary. These companies and their people gelled and excelled. They were principled and profitable. They are companies worth emulating and are the cornerstone of the AMANI™ protocol.