Can companies integrate social purpose and action with their corporate strategy?
Companies are struggling to find strategies that allow them to not only compete economically, but also to engage and motivate employees. Some are trying to bring employees back to the office and finding real resistance to returning to the long commutes of most urban centres. While the recent tech layoffs may have mitigated some of the “great resignation” the reality is that it’s still difficult to find good tech talent. And even if the “great resignation” is not a factor, the idea of “quiet quitting” is still a real threat to employee engagement and productivity. In addition to good wages and a lifestyle, employees – at least the top employees – may also be looking for more – a sense of purpose in their work.
Can companies respond with strategies that will address these issues and give them a competitive advantage? In an increasingly cynical world, can they demonstrate a sense of purpose and engagement?
This week I interviewed Chandrashekar LSP, the Canadian country manager for Zoho, a privately owned, international technology giant. I wanted to talk about the company’s focus on building a presences in smaller, often overlooked cities and towns, something it calls “transnational localism.”
Zoho, an international and private company focuses on bringing jobs to “overlooked communities” that need employment and that they appear to have built this into their corporate fabric, I was intrigued.
Zoho’s strategy runs counter to that of many technology companies who have more often gravitated toward larger municipalities, locating where it is perceived that there is a pool of talent. In some cases, companies may even look for incentives to locate their head offices in a particular location.
Zoho chose to open its Canadian headquarters in Cornwall, Ontario. Cornwall is not an obvious choice. It’s far from the Waterloo-Toronto corridor where the majority of tech companies in Ontario are located. In fact, it’s on the opposite side of the province and more than 400 kilometres from Toronto. It’s closer to Montreal, but still a 140-kilometre drive. It has a population of approximately 48 thousand.
Yet the city was a strategic choice. Moreover, it’s not the first time that Zoho has chosen to be a presence in a smaller town or city. There are other examples in the US and around the world. According to Chadreshekar, this idea of boosting a smaller city is a core strategy that they refer to in the term “transnational localism.”
Our conversation started with exploring Zoho’s strategy, but evolved into a wider discussion of corporate social good, culture in the corporate setting and a lot more. I hope you’ll enjoy it.