Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Doing Good

Peter Cappelli writes:

My colleagues and I recently completed a study of Indian businesses based around interviews with the leaders of 100 of the biggest companies in India (the basis of our book The India Way.) Every executive we interviewed described the main objective of their company in terms of a social mission. They expected to make money, but they expected to do so while doing good.

In the case of Bharti Airtel, the mission was to get cell phones into the hands of people who have no means to communicate; for ICICI Bank, it was to provide financial help to those with no access to banking; for Dr. Reddy's, the pharmaceutical company, it was to address the health care needs of the poor the world over; for Infosys, it is to show that Indian business can lead in technology. Business strategy rests on the social mission. And the corporations put charitable money behind social missions at a level that dwarfs anything we'd see in the US: Sixty-five percent of the profits of the Tata Group companies, for example, go to charities. Infosys has built and staffed entire hospitals in different regions of the country, rolling out a national curriculum to develop IT skills at the same time. Dr. Reddy's provides for the health care needs for 40,000 children. The list goes on and on.

There is every reason to believe that these companies have done well precisely because they are doing good. Helping poor people pays off when those people get money and become consumers, as millions of Indians have done every year. It also helps in a still regulated economy to get government permissions and approvals.

As Cappelli adds later in his article, serving all those involved in a business rather than just the shareholders, has big advantages. Does this have any connections with the way we 'do' church?

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