Recently, one of my past Harvard Business School professor’s recent work was highlighted in the Harvard Magazine–“Putting Social Progress on Par with Prosperity.” I love this concept. They measured things like access to medical care, nutrition, personal rights, and other factors deemed important to quality of life and happiness of a country’s citizens.
Yet, a country’s social progress is the sum total of the progress made by the individuals and organizations within it. You might consider asking yourself how your organization ranks in creating a culture where people thrive and what could you do to improve it?
The categories Michael Porter and his colleague from MIT use to measure countries are:
- Basic Human Needs (food, water, shelter, safety)
- Foundations of Wellbeing (basic education, information, health, and a sustainable environment)
- Opportunity (freedom of choice, freedom from discrimination, and access to higher education)
Perhaps we could take these same categories and evaluate our own organizations.
- Basic Human Needs – Do you pay a living wage? Is your work space in an area where employees feel safe coming and going to work?
- Foundations of Wellbeing – Do you provide health care or other means of supporting your employees health–things like access to good food for lunch, reasonable expectations of work hours, encourage stress management techniques? Do you provide adequate training and a safe working environment, especially for higher risk jobs? Do you have maternity leave benefits, flexible workhours for parents, and other policies that support employees’ personal lives?
- Opportunity – Do you offer people enrichment training, encourage cross-function promotions, and offer pay and jobs equally without discrimination?
I am sure you can think of a host of other ways you could start to challenge the social progress of your own organization. The key is to assess where you are and create a plan for improving one or two areas that are most important to you and your employees.
Laws and regulations from government are a last ditch measure to ensure citizens have their basic needs met; however, progressive companies can actually make a competitive wave that encourages other companies to follow suit much. Why wait to do the minimum required when you can actually tailor your areas of progress to the specific needs of your own employees. The benefits are employee loyalty and lower turnover as well as a higher qualified application pool when hiring.
What areas will your company make social progress on in the coming year?