The way business is done

Over the years society at large has gradually become more tolerant of differing lifestyles, e.g. in the last fifty years (at least in the US) we've seen desegregation, increased women's rights, etc. People ask all the time what are the intolerant things going on today that will fade away decades from now. Gay marriage is an obvious candidate.
You can make the same parallel in the business world. For example, we've gradually moved to cleaner and safer working environments. Similarly, what are the things going on today that are part of the "way business is done" that will likely fade away decades from now (and be viewed negatively)? Some candidates:
  • Multi-national taxation avoidance.
  • Over-collection and sharing of personal data.
  • Aggressive use of business method/software patents.
  • Executive pay ratios.
Corporations (especially public ones) have the shareholder argument that they should make decisions in the best interest of their shareholders, which generally means prioritizing bottom line earnings over anything that gets in the way of it. There are of course counter-arguments such as long-term it may be better for the shareholders and you can differentiate with more socially conscious behavior.

Companies that embrace these counter-arguments may be forward-thinking in the same way more socially tolerant people are, but it in no means is clear it makes them more successful as a whole. It feels that the way of doing business in the corporate world is a much stronger pull than in the individual world. Frameworks like The B Corporation may enable people who believe certain business practices are wrong to deliver those effectively in their corporations, but right now the quickest path to changing things seems to be very slow-moving regulation.


If you have comments, hit me up on Twitter.
I'm the Founder & CEO of DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track you. I'm also the co-author of Traction, the book that helps you get customer growth. More about me.