What makes a company ‘good’?
There was an article in the Observer yesterday on Simon Anholt and his ‘Good Countries Index’ that was so fascinating, I immediately checked out Anholt’s TEDtalk (above). It asked a really fundamental question. What do we want a/our Country to do? Make us rich? Happy? Healthy?
Anholt’s refreshingly selfless answer to this question is that he wants a country to do good for humanity as a whole. So his good country index consists of seven international metrics:
- Science & Technology
- International Peace & Security
- World Order (not as ominous as it sounds – it includes charitable giving, refugees given refuge, UN declarations signed)
- Planet & Climate
- Prosperity & Equality
- Health & Wellbeing
Ireland tops the rankings, with the UK 7th and the US 21st. My only quibble of Anholt’s TEDTalk is his claim that Kenya making no 30 means money isn’t a prerequisite for ‘being good’. I think that’s wishful thinking, the predominance of Western nations in the top 30 suggests resources and attitude help a country to make a difference in practice.
That aside, I found this a highly refreshing approach to measuring progress. And as Anholt briefly asks at the end of his talk, what would make a good company in this sense? Reporting standards such as the GRI allow companies to choose which issues are ‘material’ to them or their industry. But what would a standard, outward looking, international set of metrics look like? Who would top it?
That’s too big a question to answer here, but we can ask “what does a good company look like from the outside?”, and what are you doing with your company to fulfil that vision?