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Youth Perspectives

Youth Perspective: Are companies actually preparing for the future?

Italo Alves

03 Jul 2013

Brazilian Global Teen Leader
Education: Junior international business student at Quinnipiac University, CT

We live in a world whose future will make resources become even scarcer. This is the case for both natural resources, due to destructive actions of human beings, the effects of global warming; and human capital, as job destruction rates have increased drastically, demanding people to become multi-tasking, trying to fill the gaps of efficiency demanded by companies, and re-defining the concept of specialization as multi-specialization. On the other hand, some probable responses to these challenges have appeared: the wide-spread of education in developing countries and the substantial global population growth, but mostly in developed countries.

As I think about it during my first internship experience in the United States this summer at Ashoka – the world’s leading non-profit organization in social entrepreneurship and innovation – I wonder what could potentially happen when the scarcity of certain resources that are essential for conducting business obliged corporations and employees to turn their individualities on to meet personal and organizational goals.

Collectivity – and by that I do not mean the cultural roots of collectivist countries like Japan and Brazil, but the notion that all sectors of society must be intertwined to sustainably enhance the macroeconomic goal of high living standards – has required companies (maybe forced by governments, or maybe not) to dedicate more human and financial capital toward community development, whether it is through CSR investments or employee volunteerism. However, are companies preparing to increase community development when scarcity of resources, natural disasters, and other external factors come into play in this globalized world? How can they ensure there is enough innovation in their communities, and within their headquarters, to create real social and corporate sustainability? The answer can be creating changemaking companies.

At Ashoka, there is a strongly shared goal of creating an Everyone a Changemaker world. A world where children master skills of empathy that can teach them to care about others; a world where young people realize the problems that surround them and get into action to identify trends for social innovation and changes, and where adults, corporations, foundations, universities and governments work together to generate social profit, helping to solve the world’s pressing problems on the systemic level. This world is a hard one to create, but it is not a far one to reach. This world requires a switch in the mindset of the world’s leaders, and in the way corporations lead themselves, starting from the hiring process of their employees.

Seeing the profiles of the Ashoka fellows (social entrepreneurs who have thriven their organizations and helped serve millions of people by generating social good and still leveraging their companies to be on the Forbes 500  list) and participating in the conversations that take place in the offices, I understand that companies must begin to think about how to hire those exceptional employees who not only possess the obvious skills that everyone has been requiring students to develop at universities today  (collaboration, multi-tasking, social media, networking, and a handful of more), but rather, they should require, and if not at least encourage, changemaking skills (empathy, self-motivation, innovation, cultural diversity awareness, and others) that will help companies foresee problems when they are not even problems, and start action to meet that future demand, making welfare be achieved even when harsh economic periods or scarcity challenge humanity.

 

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