I am a business person through and through. I believe that business is hardwired into me from my ancestors. When I was much younger, for a business idea to appeal to me, it had to be something that I had personal fascination with; something about which I was passionate. The potential market didn’t matter; at that stage, I believed that if I built it, people would come. All I had to do was feel passionately about it. I may have seen one too many Kevin Costner movies.
At a different stage in my life now, my values are different. I’m still a business person through and through. However, now the concept of responsible innovation most resonates with me.
A business that exercises responsible innovation is undertaken both for profit and in the public interest. The venture considers the role that a product or service has in the world in addition maximizing profits for shareholders. This enterprise assesses if there is positive impact on society and/or the environment. The bottom line: an entity that wants to practice responsible innovation attempts to ensure that a product or service makes money, makes society better not worse, makes the planet better not worse, and that there aren’t harmful or unethical effects that could cause potential harm to freedom, safety, democracy or human rights.
This means baking the principles of ESG into the very foundation of an enterprise’s product or service and value proposition.
The concept of Winston Churchill’s quote, “Where there is great power, there is great responsibility” has been shared over and over since biblical times. It doesn’t just apply to parables and politicians. It applies to businesses. Those of us fortunate enough to have what other don’t must make sure that we don’t succeed to their detriment. We can’t leave people worse off than how we found them. We can’t leave this planet worse off than how we found it. Keeping the concept of responsible innovation as a focus alongside of maximizing shareholder profits is the way.