BransonForget the whole Gordon Gekko, greed-is-good claptrap. Today’s corporate citizens are as concerned with making a difference as they are with padding the bottom line.

So says Sir Richard Branson.

The mastermind behind the Virgin empire keynoted the massive Sage Summit conference in Chicago with a call to action to businesses everywhere:

You have the ability to change to the world. More than that, you have a responsibility to do so.

“If every company could tackle just one problem that we face today, we could get on top of every problem in the world,” Branson told the crowd of nearly 15,000 Sage evangelists. “We can’t leave change to the politicians. Changing the world begins with a small group of people who simply refuse to accept the unacceptable.”

Sage apparently has taken that notion as a personal challenge. During Sage Summit, the company announced a number of charitable initiatives, including a $50,000 donation to Brave Initiatives, a Chicago-based group that teaches young women to code, design and lead; and a partnership with Hire Heroes USA to support veterans in their post-military careers.

Moves like these are more than the right things to do. They’re good business.

All the research we see tells us that young professionals crave a higher purpose to their work. They’re not job-hoppers; far from it. They’ll stick around for the long haul if they believe your organization is committed to making a difference in the world. It turns out corporate responsibility is a fast track to employee retention.

So find a cause. Commit to it. Make a difference.

Just don’t look at it as “giving back.”

“That sounds forced, like you owe something,” said Ed Kless, a senior director of Sage Accountants Solutions. “Just give.”

Nothing you do will be more important … or will make more of a difference in changing the world for the better.

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