Working for the benefit of society

In a conversation earlier this week, a question was posed on Twitter along the lines of – surely this can’t be it? I have to do something useful with my life? It’s quite the question, and one I’ve been pondering myself for a while now too. There must be more that we can do in this life, than just go to work, enjoy our family and friends, and achieve personal ambitions…

Well, yes, there is more we can do. The question becomes more focused – what would we do? Well, when I think of this, it comes down to acting altruistically. True altruism though is hard, not many of us will ever achieve a state of life where we can help others with very little expectation of reward or recognition. It’s why I’m so interested in social enterprise. Doing work, from which the profits are poured back into initiatives that provide real help to those less fortunate than ourselves.

The Guardian ran an article some time back about people taking up studies on how to build a social enterprise. I love the idea. It marries the best of both needs and desires. We need to work, and have a desire to help others. I believe if enough of us are able to do such activities, we can build a better society, which has positive consequences.

So, what could we do? This is by far the hardest part of the question to answer. You have to have a solid business idea that you think can work. Let’s rent cars to folks who want it on a pay as you go basis. Fantastic concept, and applicable to so many people. Let’s use the profits to improve the surroundings of parks so people enjoy driving by them. I’m not suggesting Streetcar so this, or don’t, or that they are a social enterprise, but it’s easy to see from this example how you can formulate the concept quite clearly.

I haven’t researched enough to know if large organisations would do this. And I don’t mean through CSR activities, but actually taking upwards of 80% of their profits and ploughing it back into a set of initiatives that build a better society.

I’m still stuck on what my business idea might be. I know who I want to help – I’m in constant despair about the state of child welfare in this country and I want the situation to improve dramatically so children of any age are not neglected or abused. But I don’t know what my business idea is yet. I’m not forcing the thinking on this. These things take time, and you have to be certain it’s a path of want to go down.

People can seek help and advice from a range of sources. The government supports social enterprise and incentivises to it. Coaches can help develop the clarity of thinking. Investors could be convinced to part with their money for such noble purposes, and they could provide valuable advice as well as money. So there is good reason to think of it, and to try and make it happen.

This post is in part to help put my thoughts down on where I’m at, but hopefully to help others also think about what something like this involves.

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Sukh Pabial

I'm an occupational psychologist by profession and am passionate about all things learning and development, creating holistic learning solutions and using positive psychology in the workforce.

2 thoughts on “Working for the benefit of society”

  1. Hi Sukh, what a very worthy venture and be interested in your journey, although recognise that it would not be for me.

    In terms of getting your thoughts together, how about a challenge that might help you find those ideas.

    I am school governor and Chair of a local swimming club. I know from my experience of doing these roles, the constant challenge is ensuring that its more than the usual few that get involved.
    I find the school governership really rewarding. I am at a middle school, and we have kids aged 10-13. I get to apply my skills in a very constructive way and I know the leadership team have appreciated my advice and help. (I have an influence motivation so fits perfectly!!).
    The Chair of Swimming Club is more challenging. I head a committee and we employ a coach, as well as managing all the expectations of all the parents and their kids. I also get a huge sense of pleasure from it, but there is a lot of hassle especially when the finances don’t add up, and defending the coaches when someone does not agree with their decisions.

    So I offer another view, and I know you have young children. How about getting involved in a school, college or club. You will welcomed with open arms, and you never know where it might lead you?

    1. Ian, thanks for taking the time to comment, especially at the weekend! It’s a very fair point you raise, that social enterprise isn’t for everyone. And you raise an equally good point that there are other ways to help achieve the same goals but through different routes.

      It’s certainly added more to the mix, and this is no bad thing for sure.

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