This article from the World Economic Forum on the fact that Germany is drafting law to give people the legal right to work from home brought to my mind the concept of the “next unacceptable social issue”.

The first time I heard about the concept was at the Web Summit in 2019 when the CEO of Shell mentioned it. He referred to it in the context of explaining that the concept is now part of the company’s decision-making process. “We always ask ourselves whether the investment we are making is acceptable today. And if it is, we then ask ourselves and will it be tomorrow?”.
The concept is comparable to, say, asking 15 years ago whether plastics would become the next unacceptable environmental issue. These are the typical questions companies should consider when an issue is sort of latent - when most people (specially the business community) are still unaware of the challenging dimensions yet to come. That is the right time for companies to try and create a competitive advantage – not years later when the issue is already “institutionalised”, part of legislation and businesses fully aware of its implications.

I find this concept particularly interesting in the context of what should companies worry when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. With an increasing level of research on Talent attraction from the younger generations confirming they are willing to trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings for greater meaning at work, understanding “what drives them” is paramount. Companies that understand the increasing emphasis of “meaning at work” in today’s professional landscape improve their ability to attract the younger generations and to retain them for longer periods of time.

Putting both issues together – “the next unacceptable social issue” and “the new trends to attract and retain younger generations” - I have been raising the issue in my undergraduate and master classes, and ask students what they think the next unacceptable social issue will be. The answer, for its consistency, surprised me (probably I should not…): “mandatory HR policy to work from office every day”. Food for thought for the corporate world and an opportunity to create a competitive advantage in talent attraction and retention?

Have a great and impactful week!

Nuno Moreira da Cruz
Executive Director
Center for Responsible Business & Leadership

PS: We just launched the third edition of the executive course Responsible Business: Próxima Fonte de Vantagem Competitiva, held in Portuguese.

As candidaturas ao curso estão abertas e, em parceria com a Fundação Gulbenkian, temos 5 bolsas a oferecer a empreendedores sociais (com empresa formalmente criada), colaboradores de PME, startups e microempresas portuguesas (informações no site). 

O curso, que se realiza em Fevereiro e Março de 2021, permitirá introduzir o conceito de Responsible Business, bem como aprofundar as temáticas em torno da Sustentabilidade (económica, social e ambiental), Proposito, Objectivos de Desenvolvimento Sustentado, “Business Case for action”, Modelos de Negócio Inovadores e Ética Empresarial.

This article refers to edition #70 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" Newsletter.
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