• Eugene McGarrell

From a greed culture to a giving culture

Last month marked the end of Spring and the final hearing day of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. The final report is due to be published in February but most of us expect the breach of trust between the financial institutions and the community will be underlined. The interim report states that the causes for the breaches in systems “…seems to be greed – the pursuit of short term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty.”

Personally I have moved my business from one of the big 4s to a community bank on the back of what I have read and heard in the media. At this point in time I have lost faith in the culture of the large financial institutions. Culture doesn’t shift overnight and the tightening up of the financial systems won’t change the culture.

So if greed is the root cause for most of the problems reported on, then what is the antidote to greed? Whoever finds the answer to this question will paradoxically have the competitive advantage in the market.

I wonder whether a change in the way organisations invest in social good may be part of the answer. Understanding of course that there are no simple answers to what is a complex problem, maybe revising social good strategies could significantly contribute to a shift in culture from greed to giving?

There are varying approaches to investing in social good. From philanthropy, social bonds to an emerging shared value model of investment. What if the answer is not in the financial investment but is actually in the way organisations contribute to building self and community agency?

If the culture is to change then maybe the people of the organisation need to interact directly with the actions that enhance community agency. To be able to reflect at the end of their day how they contributed to social good and enhanced the economy.

Positive social policy and a strong economy including profits are not mutually exclusive. Fewer people living in poverty will lead to a stronger economy which results in fewer people in poverty. There is of course a synergy.

But why do we have increasingly more people living in poverty, living on the streets, addicted to alcohol and other drugs, living with mental illness and experiencing violence and abuse from a family member? Australia is a rich country yet the gap between those who have and those who have not is not closing.

There is an opportunity for any financial institution to grasp. An opportunity that will shift the culture from “greed to giving” and may deliver a shared value for the economy and social good. Will one of the big 4 see this opportunity and grasp it? I am optimistic.

But lets keep the conversation going. I would love to hear your thoughts about this blog. All views and comments welcome.

#costefficiency #returns

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