In pursuit of profit
Profit is not a dirty word. All business works in pursuit of the profit motive. If we are not concerned by profit than business is not going to be sustainable. Profit provides financial fuel so that business can meet the needs of customers, provide people with work, and invest in wealth generating opportunities.
There is a growing realisation however that the pursuit of profit above all else in itself will not be a successful long term strategy. We need to look at our organisations more holistically. Often short term profit targets can drive too many short term decisions. For example, if we make good profits one year due to poor working practices what does this do to our workforce commitment? Business strives to create high performing teams, to achieve more than the competition, to be the best. If profit is at the expense of the people delivering our services or making our products we will not build a loyal and committed workforce. There are a variety of stakeholders when it comes to the pursuit of profit.
If we generate profits whilst damaging the environment, this will impact on how our customers see our brand. It can leave business vulnerable to legal and regulatory penalties. It will damage our organisation’s reputation in the end if we do not demonstrate responsible stewardship of our resources and behave in an ethical way when it comes to the planet.
If our business stands for making money but doesn’t have any deeper sense of purpose behind what we do, this will impact on our long term sustainability as well. Consumers and the most capable workers are increasingly attracted to those businesses that make the world better and do some social good for communities in parallel to generating profit. We are turned off from those organisations who appear greedy and uncaring.
The pursuit of profit remains the overall goal for most organisations. How business can achieve this in a more socially, environmentally and people centred way in the future is the responsibility of leaders. If we are going to create the conditions for lasting success in business, we are going to need to balance people and profit in different and more responsible ways. Continuously changing consumer behaviour, market conditions and climate change are just some of the factors that drive a need to rethink what the pursuit of profit really means.