The idea behind sustainable and responsible investing is to invest in companies that reward shareholders with strong financial returns as well as deliver positive environmental, social and economic impacts. Beyond explicit sustainable investing, more and more stakeholders are expecting companies to marry purpose with profits and to do more good for society.
When it comes to the betterment of human health, such as raising the state of physical, mental and social well-being, this responsibility looms large, and the inputs, outputs, and impacts may be difficult to pin down.
Until now, this challenge has been met by accounting for social impacts in buckets of negligence or malpractice, such as human rights violations, occupational injury and illness, child labor, slavery, and the like. As such, the business case for well-being translates into avoiding reputational risks and ensuring that legal and regulatory requirements are met.
In this pursuit of simplicity we miss the forest for the trees. We effectively skip over all the “good things” that human well-being generates, like mastery, autonomy, purpose, good health, safety, security, trust, and belonging.
Moreover, well-being is greater than the sum of its parts. Well-being is a true reflection of a system that operates in a sustainable and healthy way: a business system that places well-being as central to its purpose, products, people, and the planet; that commits to developing human potential with opportunities for learning, progress, and collaboration; and that builds resilience for an evolving dynamic system by deliberately elevating the absorptive and adaptive capacity of individuals. In sum, we may appreciate and generate thriving if we value these things as much as, or more than, grievances or violations attached to various business activities.
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