Last week I won an award in the Yorkshire region as the Outstanding Business Woman of the year and ended up doing an hour long broadcast on the local BBC…a kind of Desert Island Discs. I say this not to show off, but because this week I seem to have gone mainstream.
And I mean properly mainstream. The award was not for social businesses only but was for businesses, straight forward, big, real world business and all of a sudden I feel very mainstream. But mainstream isn’t normal for me and it makes me think.
When we were at an event in London earlier in the year, Doug Richard encouraged all the social enterprises there to aim higher. Not to be satisfied with the Social Enterprise 100, not to celebrate only our success but also to aspire to transform all businesses into social businesses. I clapped like everyone else there, party because I was really impressed and partly because I was sitting in the same row and it seemed impolite not to.
I always arrive at the office early each morning and while it’s quiet I get myself set for the day, often listening to Thought for the Day, not out of spiritual hunger, more routine I think. Last week the Chief Rabbi was on talking about the problems that beset religions when they try to persuade others of their validity and point of view by getting into power. He argued that when religions try to hold power, civic, military or political power, as a way to change to world things go badly wrong. Oppression wrong or terrorism wrong.
When religion functions well and transforms people and societies it does so by being a creative minority.
Anyway, as I collected the award I thought about this. Do we have greater social impact when we seek the ground where business operates or when we see ourselves as a creative dissenting minority?
I’m not sure what the answer is really, but I do know that next week we are up for the regional Employer of the Year award and we are up against Morrison’s Supermarkets.
I guess that will be a good time to try to work out the answer…