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The Importance of Social Responsibility: Forging a New Connection Between Making Money and Making a Difference

It’s not often you hear talk about global capitalism and social change in the same breath
Man uses a laptop (Photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Man uses a laptop (Photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Ever wonder about the importance of social responsibility? Take one listen to Audrey Choi’s family story and you’ll quickly see just how powerful organizations are in the world.

Choi is the daughter of a woman who escaped North Korea. She did so by illuding large institutions. Now, Audrey has taken her mother’s example of fortitude and used it to run toward large institutions. Her goal? To encourage these massive companies to use their money for good. In fact, she believes that their money is one of the most powerful catalysts for social change at our disposal.

I was drawn to Choi’s story and mission because I share the same sentiment. And yet, it’s not often you hear talk about global capitalism and social change in the same breath.

The Importance of Social Responsibility vs. Global Business

Global businesses are mostly thought of as impersonal. Think of a large brand, such as Walmart or Apple, and images of their logos will pop into your mind before a person’s face.

On the flipside, social organizations are more relatable. They use personal stories to fuel their mission and operate with a goal of changing one life at a time.

It’s hard to imagine the two of them combined, and yet that’s just what Choi and I want to see happen. It’s a lofty goal but it’s far from impossible.

Redefining Success

Perhaps the reason the terms “global business” and “social change” aren’t often used in the same sentence lies in our culture’s current definition of success. High profits and paychecks are signals that a company and person are thriving.

But here’s the problem with using money as the sole indicator of success – it leaves the rest of us at the mercy of those who hold the biggest riches.

What if we redefined what success looks like? What if we reevaluate the concept of money and it’s worth? Some businesses already have and these, I believe, are the future of this world.

Social enterprises are on the rise. More and more people have chosen to define success by the legacy a person will leave behind rather than the amount of money in their bank account. The number of people a person touches is more valuable than the number on the monthly financial reports.

This, I believe, is true success. And I’m not alone.

More people are willing to forego financial benefit in exchange for working with an organization that has a strong reputation of social responsibility and ethics, according to a recent survey by UC Santa Barbara of over 800 MBA students.

There’s a clear mindset shift taking place in the workforce – one I’m confident will bring about more people who are eager and ready to leave behind a strong legacy.

But how is this done effectively? It starts with connecting businesses with social organizations who need support in order to change lives.

Connecting Business and Social Responsibility

The business world has operated out of two separate silos for too long. Until recently, it has felt like corporations either focus on making money or doing good. It’s time to change that.

If today’s leaders want to be truly successful, which is to say leave behind an admirable legacy, they must do more than grow the bottom line. It’s time for executives to focus on the reason for earning money – to make the world a better place for future generations.

This approach requires that students get exposed to the importance of giving back before they ever enter the workforce.

It requires that those people who are socially aware get pushed to the front and given a seat at the board room table. It requires a shift in every business opportunity as a whole to connect profit margins with people. It requires corporations to look at influence over income. This is what social responsibility is all about.

Although most will agree with this sentiment, few will put it into action. This is where the importance of social responsibility comes into play.

Social Responsibility In Action

I am one of the few who have put this notion of people over profits into action. In fact, this concept is what prompted me to create my tour company, Esperanso.

The idea was born out of my, and my co-founders, desire to provide engaging tours of Israel and benefit the people in our beloved country simultaneously. We embarked on a mission to empower people while also entertaining guests in our homeland.

The purpose behind forming Esperanso hit home on a personal note. I have an aunt who has special needs. Some of my fondest memories are of visiting her in Kfar Tikva, a unique city where businesses employ adults with disabilities. From a young age, I saw first hand how companies were able to have a positive influence on the lives of others while still turning a profit. It was this example that inspired me to start a socially responsible business of my own.

But my mission doesn’t stop there. I invite others to take part in this movement of game changers. I encourage corporations to choose good over profit growth.

Will you join me?

About the Author
Itay is a graduate of Yizrael Valley College in Behavioral Science. He has worked as an informal educator with Israel’s Ministry of Education and is an expert in Israel and Jewish identity education. He has experience leading short-term immersive and long-term education programming to facilitate diverse Jewish learning experiences. Itay led and founded numerous social justice programs in Israel for students to come and meet Israel’s backyard and support the asylum seeker community and children in South Tel-Aviv before becoming one of the co-founders of Esperanso.
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