Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Doing Well by Doing Bad

It has been reported that the revenue for illegal cocaine sales in the United States alone has reached US$34 billion annually.

When you add the market for other illicit drugs and revenue generators like human trafficking and extortion, it becomes clear that organized crime is still making most of its money from its legacy businesses, despite the fact that criminals are always looking for new and innovative ways to make a buck other than printing them.

Here are the top five criminal gangs, ranked by revenue estimates:

1. Yamaguchi Gumi (Japan) — Revenue: $80 billion
2. Solntsevskaya Bratva (Russia) — Revenue: $8.5 billion
3. Camorra (Italy-US) — Revenue: $4.9 billion
4. ‘Ndrangheta (Italy) — Revenue: $4.5 billion
5. Sinaloa Cartel (Mexico) —Revenue $3 billion

Total: US$100.9 billion

The Top 5 Organised Criminal Cartels have an estimated total revenue of about US$101 billion. This is much more than the Koch Brothers combined, and still 25% more than Bill Gates. Never mind that the Top "5" Baddies' US$ 101 billion is just 22% of Fortune Magazine’s Top Company Walmart's 2013 revenue of US$476.3 billion. Their "products and services" include everything from “sexual exploitation, firearms trafficking, drugs, counterfeiting, gambling, usury and extortion,” according to the Study. Drugs, Weapons and Human Trafficking (mostly in women and Children) are the most lucrative among the businesses of human misery and exploitation.

To me, Doing Good is still and always Better.

DOING GOOD AND DOING WELL are not contradictory corporate goals. Plainly put, you can always create a win-win situation to achieve both. Increasing public pressure to involve corporations to tackle social issues is an opportunity for companies that know how to pick issues that are ripest for their leadership.

For the Millennial generation especially, making a profit and serving others are the two big circles; and that sliver in between, is the sweet spot, aka “conscious capitalism.” The line between the two worlds of do-gooders and money-makers is blurring and companies are finding ways to make both goals definable and attainable. To stay competitive in today’s environment, companies must help people and serve society – few businesses can stay competitive if their product or service is not providing value, solving an issue or making a real social impact.

As the world slowly recovers from the economic crisis, several trends—most particularly, increasing globalization, a shift in economic emphasis from the West to the emerging consumers in the East, worldwide talent shortages (despite high unemployment, many companies struggle to find highly skilled workers), a shrinking supply of natural resources, and heightened regulatory activity—are creating a new set of challenges for corporations.

Corporate leaders are facing these challenges at a time when the public’s trust in institutions, particularly market-based ones, is low. Furthermore, the company needs to show the world that it is doing something about sustainability to protect its reputation and avoid potential backlash among consumers, regulators, potential employees, and other key stakeholders. However, businesses that actively address these issues in collaboration with government and social-sector leaders (and sometimes, where warranted, even with their competitors) can help shape a better future in which citizens have more of their needs fulfilled, businesses act more responsibly and earn the right to operate more freely in a cooperative ecosystem, and the economic climate fosters growth and innovation.

It sounds utopian, but it’s not. This scenario is attainable—and preferable to the path down which we may be headed. To be sure, the world will always have problems, but helping to solve them is increasingly in businesses’ best interests.

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