A few days ago, I saw an interesting Wall Street journal article from a Russian academic who thinks that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will kick-off a US civil war next fall (all combined with the collapse of the dollar). By June 2010, he believes that the U.S. will break into six nicely cut pieces–interestingly Alaska is going to revert to Russian control.  hmmm…

Photo by Karliehenbauer

While I think the Russian Prof’s civil war forecast is pretty funny (Americans are actually very united in times of deep crisis), I do wonder about potential mini civil wars erupting in companies as the Responsibility Revolution clashes with tough(er) economic realities in 09.

The Responsibility Revolution: Tim Sanders calls this very real emerging trend toward companies improving the lives of everyone in its footprint (employees, suppliers, communities and the planet) the responsibility revolution. The responsibility revolution comes on the heels of the 1970s quality revolution and the 1990s internet revolution. Tim cites the below set of facts as giving rise to the responsibility revolution.

  • In 2006, 78% of 14 to 18 year-olds said that money “was less important than personal fulfillment”. (original study from BBDO).
  • 65% of Americans are willing to switch to a brand associated with a good cause if price/quality are relatively equal.
  • 66% of Americans participate in at least 1 social cause boycott each year.
  • 10% of young job seekers identified themselves as “ethical enthusiasts”–more concerned about the ecological values of their potential employer than they are about starting take home pay.
  • One third of job seekers will look for a new position soon because they feel the contribution made by their employers is below par.
  • Two thirds of college graduates say they will not work with a company that has a poor reputation for social responsibility.
  • SRI funds have attracted trillions over the past few years, and the trend toward people investing socially continues to rise.

As Sanders points out, some companies have chosen to lead the way in the responsibility revolution & are now in the drivers seat with regards to this mega-trend.  GE, for example, is driving Ecomagination–a program seeking to reduce, & maybe even completely change, the company’s carbon footprint as well as focusing on building green products. It took courage for GE to drive Ecomagination and it is still not a stock price driver, so as times get tough, will bloody civil wars start to break out between the socially conscious who support programs like Ecomagination and those who want to revert back to short-term, purely profit driven survival tactics? Time will tell, but I believe the responsibility revolution is now fully in swing…and companies or individuals who get in the way of change will slowly die.

If civil wars erupt inside companies over the next year, lets hope the victors are in touch with the Responsibility Revolution…

Hat tip to Rob Walker for the US civil war article.

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