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  • Penny Clark-Hall

Being a good business = being a good human

Did your parents ever tell you to ‘treat those the way you wish to be treated’? I’m convinced this advice is one of the keys to earning one’s Social Licence to Operate (SLO).

If you respect your stakeholders, and operate with a code of transparency and inclusiveness, you can start to earn trust - the core of what a SLO is.

So how do we empower businesses, and the people within them, to ‘be a good human’ and do the right thing by their stakeholders?


Transparency, inclusiveness, integrity, and respect are a great start. It’s not about attaching a fancy report to your end of year financials, labouring over the great things being done and skimming over your shortfalls. You need to own your failures and have the humility to recognise the impact they have on your stakeholders. Your stakeholders are a lot more cynical these days. You only need to look at the Occupy Wall St movement or Dirty Dairying campaign to understand that sweeping things under the rug, or apportioning blame, only inflames the situation and degrades the level of trust you have. Listening and engaging is far more effective.


Businesses need to start thinking about trust as a currency. The more you have, the longer your business will last. 


Be brave. If you can fail transparently, you’re showing your stakeholders you respect them enough to make yourself vulnerable to them, with a genuine desire to do better. It always comes back to being a ‘good human’. If you chose to confess to stealing a $10 note from you parents, rather than hide it - which scenario do you think would produce you the most favourable result? 


Making your stakeholders a part of the solution is also incredibly powerful. Doesn’t it make sense to include those with the issue, in seeking a solution? Don’t waste resources on guessing what would make them happy - give them the job. The solution will be far more enduring. A side benefit for you - a healed relationship that could have caused you a lot more long-term pain. 


Bringing it back to being a ‘good human’. What would you rather, feeling powerless or being met halfway? A child being forced to eat broccoli is going to resist much more than a child allowed to add condiments. It’s about having enough trust to give stakeholders some control over the things that affect them. You can only do this if you’ve got the bigger picture in mind.


For the longest time businesses have picked their ‘good human’ moments. This is no longer tolerated by society. You will quickly be called out by stakeholders if you try to pull the wool over their eyes or are seen to not be operating for the greater good. 


Today, being a ‘good business’ isn’t just about the bottom line. It requires all the intricate elements that make us ‘good humans’. Time to take good look in the mirror. Are you a ‘good human’?

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© 2019 by Penny Clark-Hall of Social Licence Consulting. All rights reserved.

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