Why we should give back to the communities who helped us flourish

August 5, 2022

By Vikas Shah MBE DL

Modern business CEOs, entrepreneurs and philanthropists are carving the path of the new inspiring leader; a leader who looks beyond profits, who acts with moral purpose, and who gives back to their communities.  

Turning a blind eye is no longer accepted in business; with rising societal problems and the gap between the wealthiest and the poor as wide as ever. Every organisation has its uninspiring and obligatory CSR policies, whether that is a charity partner or an annual sponsored hike, but is there a moral duty for leaders to go beyond this and to truly open their eyes to the communities beyond their office door?   

You can lead with or without blinkers on. As a business leader you are within your rights to live your life and lead your business however you like, as long as you don’t commit harm – and that’s the caveat. In reality, it’s difficult for CEOs of major businesses to act in silos. For example, in an industry such as fast fashion, it’s impossible to ignore the wider impact of the business on its team, suppliers, external workers and the wider planet.    

The line between an organisation and its community are blurred, and there’s no doubt that the civic society and environment around a business has helped that business flourish. So surely you owe it to that civil society to pay it back?  

Being a Chief Executive living between quarterly earnings, evaluating options and making sure governance wheels are spinning is not leadership. This is advanced management. Management of processes and logistics within your business only.  

To earn the title of a leader you need to take ownership of a mission and to execute the mission with your people.  

And there’s a societal accountability piece here. A lot of finger pointing goes on. There’s a tendency to blame the government for issues in our communities. But there’s a responsibility on all of us to act where we can, and to take accountability over our society.  

The question leaders really need to ask is if not us, then who? 

This article was written by Vikas Shah MBE DL as part of The Inspiring Leadership Podcast content series. The podcast aims to delve into the minds of inspiring businesspeople, to learn from the very best and to understand what makes a great leader. To listen to the full series visit Spotify or Apple Podcasts. 

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