Force for Good
How business and management can be reimagined as a force for good.
Alliance Manchester Business School is delighted to be hosting this year’s British Academy of Management conference. In this special issue, you can read exclusive interviews with a number of the eminent speakers who are coming to Manchester.
In each interview we began by asking the same question, namely how business and management can be reimagined as a force for good in these turbulent times. Taken collectively, their varied and thought-provoking responses encapsulate the myriad challenges that business leaders face today.
A number of our interviewees pick up on the theme of what exactly we mean by ‘good’ and, more to the point, who actually benefits from this move to ‘doing good’. The answers are not always as obvious as you might think and challenge all of our thinking.
What we mean by good is a fascinating question. Businesses, of course, still need to make a profit in order to pay people and invest in their organisations. The movement towards ‘doing good’ is surely about saying that these profits should be used in good ways and reinvested for the long-term sustainability of a company.
A number of our interviewees pick up on the theme of what exactly we mean by ‘good’ and, more to the point, who actually benefits from this move to ‘doing good’.
Unsurprisingly the drive towards environmental and social concerns, alongside the push to equality, diversity and inclusion, figure prominently in our interview responses. Indeed, this push undoubtedly needs to be a major focus of attention if we are to see real change.
Everything depends on execution and delivery. Otherwise we simply end up with cynicism because organisations might be good at virtue signalling but do not follow through on their words.
As Quinetta Roberson, former President of the American Academy of Management, tells us: “What I have found is that although companies talk a lot about diversity and inclusion and about representing people across all levels of their organisation and giving them the opportunity to excel, the reality is somewhat different.”
She adds that all too often the focus is only on a narrow group of employees and can become over focused on white-collar positions, while often policies simply don’t resonate with staff.
Business school role
Business schools undoubtedly have a significant role to play here and need to work closely with businesses, and with the next generation of business leaders who will face extraordinary challenges. We need to equip them to be able to cut through the complexity of the modern world, to help with decision making and find lasting solutions. Being good collaborators will be hugely important if they are to enact genuine change. This is where our impact as a force for good will be.