What is a culture of caring? At first blush it sounds too soft and fluffy. The business of business is to make money, everything else is just talk. Right?

Not anymore.

Thanks to the Millennials among us, work has a second meaning. It is a place to learn, grow, and yes, even do good. Today's employees require experiences that are helpful and healthful. Organizations that don't pay attention to this will be the dinosaurs of tomorrow.

In 2003, The Center for Companies that Care was founded to promote social sustainability and improve the lives of employees. There is even an honor roll that publicly recognizes organizations that strive to make the work environment a place to encourage employees to rise to great heights.

Companies like Delta Air Lines, Inc., Enterprise Fleet Management, Inc., and Convergint Technologies, have been identified as ones that go above and beyond to support their employees, as well as the community.

15 years ago, the idea of socially responsible businesses was still in its infancy. Now, it's more vital than ever before.

Here are the 10 characteristics of socially responsible employers:

  • Sustain a work environment founded on dignity and respect for all employees
  • Make employees feel their jobs are important
  • Cultivate the full potential of all employees
  • Encourage individual pursuit of work/life balance
  • Enable the well-being of individuals and their families through compensation, benefits, policies, and practices
  • Develop great leaders at all levels, who excel at managing people, as well as results
  • Appreciate and recognize the contributions of people who work there
  • Establish and communicate standards for ethical behavior and integrity
  • Get involved in community endeavors and/or public policy
  • Consider the human toll when making business decisions

All the organizations I work with are striving to meet these values and be on the honor roll of companies that care. Easier said than done. It takes determination to keep the vision strong of what it means to include people and planet, along with profits in today's competitive workforce.

Thinking from whole systems perspective means making a commitment to dig deeply into values of offering continuous learning at work. In our Total Leadership Connections™ program, an underlying theme brought to light is "We are all connected and no one wins unless we all do." As I said, easy to talk about but not so easy to stay committed to this way of caring.

The three women, pioneers in caring, who founded The Center for Companies that Care, Marci Koblenz, Sandra Cunningham, and Mary Ellen Gornick, all have backgrounds in workplace effectiveness and have combined their skills and vision to develop the code of conduct for optimal daily business practices.

Each of us has a part to play to make work more effective, more a place of continued growth and development. What part can you play?