Dell has made a public commitment to driving the Triple Bottom Line into the very DNA of the company through its “10x20 Goal – A Legacy of Good.” By doing so, Dell sets an example for other impact enterprises to follow. If a large, publicly traded company can strive to align purpose and profit, then smaller firms should not settle for below market returns.
Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell, states: “We are laying out a new vision that extends well beyond what Dell can do alone. We’ve set an aspirational goal of generating 10 times more benefit through our technology than it takes to make and use it. We call it the 10x20 Goal — A Legacy of Good.” (For details, see Dell 2020 Legacy of Good Plan.)
Dell appears to recognize that by looking through the lens of bettering the world, there is a path for also increasing revenues and profits. After all, Dell is a public corporation. If the 10x20 efforts do not result in a higher market valuation within a short term, then investors will push back hard. Carl Icahn is a major shareholder of Dell stock, and he is known for ruthlessly pursuing profit. If Dell can simultaneously pursue purpose and profit, then why should other impact enterprises settle for less?
Unfortunately, many business leaders in the impact community are willing to accept below market returns in order to attain social and environmental benefits. This may indeed be necessary in some circumstances, but it should not be the default attitude. Settling for low financial returns cripples the ability of the enterprise to grow and expand its impact. Dell’s new vision challenges those in the impact community to look for ways where they too can align People, Planet and Profit – without settling for diminished profit.
I applaud Dell for its bold new vision which seeks to minimize the negative aspects of its business, while simultaneously striving to create positive social change through its products and services. Now Dell needs to follow through on its commitments, and other impact enterprises to learn from Dell’s efforts to align purpose and profit.
Dell, welcome to the world of impact enterprises.