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MISSION CONTROL |

The Straw That Stirs the Drink of Good Corporate Citizens

In Corporate America and in workplaces around the globe, we all drink the Kool-Aid. In fact, depending on your belief in your organization’s mission, some of us even guzzle it with gusto.

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Kool-Aid, as it relates to work, could be a brand or motto. It also could be a cultural touchstone or driving purpose. If you believe in the Kool-Aid your company is serving, it usually means your core values are aligned.

That’s the kind of engagement that company leaders can’t manufacture through age-old platitudes.

No one wants to halfheartedly drink Kool-Aid. We all want to work for extraordinary people in a positive, nurturing work environment.

In my interview with Virgin Pulse CEO David Osborne, I got the impression that the Kool-Aid is flowing at company headquarters. And, his employees would crash through a cubicle wall to drink it — maybe even dunk their heads in it.

Mission Control picThat’s the power of a visionary leader and a fully committed and inspired workforce. They harness the tenets of a purpose-driven organization. It helps that Virgin Pulse isn’t “in the business of, say, educating oil companies on where they should drill next,” as Osborne said in our discussion.

Virgin Pulse is in the business of health and well-being and changing lives for the better. That’s not a platitude. It’s a conviction.

You may not have the good fortune of working for a company with a mission that’s meant to benefit humankind. There’s no magic pill to make employees buy into what you’re selling. But, as a fellow passenger on this journey we call life, there’s always a way to make a difference.

Workers’ expectations have dramatically risen. They demand a lot out of their employers. Mostly, they demand respect. They also want their places of business to represent the best of society.

Study after study shows that people want companies to address important social justice issues. They’re more likely to purchase products from companies that advocate for causes dear to them. They place a premium on corporate social responsibility.

If companies begin seeing that high environmental, social and governance scores yield high bottom-line results, then CEOs and boardrooms will drink the Kool-Aid too. From Wall Street to sweatshop floors, they’ll find the straw that stirs the drink of good corporate citizens. 

dan-cafaroDan Cafaro is editor-in-chief of Publications. He can be reached at dan.cafaro@worldatwork.org.