The Nobel winning economist Milton Friedman famously stated “There is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits.”
But is that really true?
Or is there a much larger responsibility that businesses have to society & to our kids?
The invention of the ‘B Corp’ and the participation of 3500 corporations across 70 countries points to a differing point of view.
What is a BCorp?
Benefit Corporations, or shortened to BCorp, is a new type of corporation that was invented in 2007. BCorps balance purpose with profits.
Here is a quick 2 min overview of BCorps:
The official definition comes from B Lab – the nonprofit behind B Corps:
“Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”
BCorps go through a rigorous certification and agree to uphold a shared ‘Declaration of Interdependence’.
The BCorp Declaration of Interdependence?
The Declaration of Interdependence is a ‘code’ that all BCorps agree to. The fundamentals of it agrees that businesses can be a force for good.
The declaration has 4 main ‘beliefs’:
- That we must be the change we seek in the world.
- That all businesses out to be conducted if people and place mattered.
- That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
- To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations
How does remote work relate to BCorps?
People think of remote work as ‘no longer going to the office’. But the impact of remote work goes well beyond the physical office space.
Remote work is, by definition, location-independent. Meaning – you no longer have to be in a specific location to perform the job. It’s now ‘in the cloud.’ And as a result, anyone with an internet connection and the right skills can perform the job.
And when I say anyone – I mean ANYONE AROUND THE WORLD.
So how is that relevant to BCorps? Let’s relate this back to the Declaration:
Be the change we seek in the world:
The world is full of amazing, talented people literally spread across EVERY country. Unfortunately, though opportunity isn’t.
Often times – due to circumstances outside of their control – talented people are never given the chance to live out their dream job. Without moving, many times to another country, they have to settle for whatever jobs are in their town.
Remote work changes this.
By shifting work to the cloud, talented individuals now have infinite opportunities delivered to them. Cloud jobs enable them to apply their skills, from where they’re at, and get paid.
By decoupling location and opportunity – the world is a better place for those that are willing to work hard & be the best.
Business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered:
People matter – place doesn’t.
For many jobs today – people are forced to move from their hometowns, countries, family and loved ones to find high paying jobs. This has a negative impact on the individuals and families. It also causes ‘brain drain’ from the countries these talented people left.
Instead, with remote, the cloud enables the jobs to be delivered to the people in their hometown. This has a profound impact on global society.
As these high-skill remote workers make more – they spend more at their local businesses, reinvest in the community, invest in their kids’ education, improve local infrastructure, etc etc. The velocity of money takes over in a positive (mostly) virtuous cycle. The impact to the local community is well beyond the remote worker themselves.
Business should aspire to do no harm & benefit all:
Throughout history, capitalism and technology have proven to be amazing forces to advance society. They have resulted in innovations that help cure diseases, software that enable the delivery of global education, and jobs that lift people out of poverty.
Remote companies are on the ‘bleeding edge’ of truly making the world flatter and delivering opportunities to talented people everywhere. This innovation results in a higher standard of living in that society.
High paying remote jobs help accelerate economic opportunity throughout the world.
We are each dependent upon another and responsible for each other and future generations:
Interdependency is the definition of a society. In a global remote world interconnected via the cloud, boundaries between states and countries are imaginary and irrelevant.
Future generations will look at their careers & job prospects through a computer terminal. They will simply click on their dream job and apply. They will work in the cloud yet live local. They will help pay their parent’s medical needs, invest in local entrepreneurs and so much more
There have always been corporations that focused on more than Milton Friedman’s profit definition. But the BCorp innovation is accelerating companies proactively looking at ‘shareholders’ in a much larger context.
With the acceleration of remote work and cloud jobs – we will further expand the BCorp mission to include job creation around the world.