Is business always about the numbers? I don’t think so. And I hope not.
It is about people. It is about emotion. Fast Company argues that anyone who is truly sophisticated about business recognises the essential truth that the dollars, the cash-flow, and the share price are the by-products and the results of people and emotion.
The Pepsi and Cokes seem to risk their money by throwing it around like it is going out of fashion with ever greater ad spend. All chasing the goal of year-on-year increases in earnings per share. That’s how it looks from our end.
However, it seems that there are other ways of taking a risk.
Starbucks have started opening stores in truly deprived neighbourhoods*. The last thing these communities need is a $4 latte. Meanwhile the coffee chain is hiring veterans and military family members as well as refugees. And no mention of this in TV ads.
It appears that all this do-goodism is far from hurting the bottom line. It is benefitting it. Staff feel a part of something bigger. A force for good.
Now the cynic in me (and you?) will claim this is all a thinly-disguised piece of mercenary politicking. Surely every corporate decision is based on an ROI explicit or implicit. Or is it? Is #boycottStarbucks justified?
This Starbucks story just might demonstrate what we all hope in our heart of hearts. Is it possible that big business can do well financially and also do good in the world?
* Fast Company, Sept 2017: Starbucks has committed to opening 15 stores in underserved communities as part of its larger social impact agenda. In 2013, they pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and military family spouses. In 2015, they pledged to hire 10,000 “opportunity youth” (16-24-year-olds who are not in school or working). In Jan 2017, they pledged to hire 10,000 refugees in stores across the world by 2022.