Jennifer Reimer

Virtuous Radicals: How Some Companies Achieve Positive, Large-Scale Impact on Society while Others Fail

By Jennifer Reimer



How can you and your company achieve greater impact on society?

Serious social and environmental challenges threaten the sustainability of human populations. Millions of Rands are spent each year on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes in South Africa and many large corporations have made commitments to socially responsible actions. Yet there is little evidence of a positive impact of these socially responsible actions. This threatens the positive future state of our society and environment.

At the same time, the future workforce, which will largely consist of millennials, is looking for greater influence on society and our planet through their workplaces. Engaging, motivating and empowering them is on the minds of leaders in South Africa today.

These are key challenges for the future leadership of our workplaces. To cultivate a positive interaction with our society and environment and to ensure a positive future state of our businesses and planet, it is critical that we understand the leadership qualities and processes that will guide these positive interactions. We need to know how these leadership qualities permeate through an organisation, empowering and inspiring the future workforce.

In the face of these challenges, we need to ask; Why are many companies failing to make a significant impact? Are there companies that have shown significant positive impact? What makes these companies different?

Jennifer Reimer, an associate of Business Results Group, and strategy and sustainability consultant is currently conducting her PhD research to discover why some companies have a large-scale positive impact on society and others do not.  As a leadership capability company, we aim to provide you with more information about the leadership and management qualities that can be cultivated to ensure a positive future state of your businesses and our planet. The findings of Jennifer’s research will be made available to enable BRG and our clients to better understand what drives some companies to have a significant positive impact on society while others do not.

In the first phase of her research, Jennifer interviewed employees and stakeholders of South African companies, all of whom reported to engage in socially responsible actions. She found that some companies fail to have a significant positive impact on society, and calls these ‘Moral Traditionalists’. They are trying to do the ‘right thing’ but have little impact.  Those that do tend to have a large-scale positive impact have very specific qualities that differentiate them from their peers. She has termed these companies ‘Virtuous Radicals’ and the world needs more of them, especially as corporations grow increasingly powerful, and humanity’s grand challenges remain unresolved.

The difference comes down to the beliefs of leadership teams and how they permeate through the company to influence the company’s role in society and company processes and actions.

The results include:

  • The three key factors that characterise the companies that have a large-scale positive impact – Virtuous Radicals;
  • The qualities of the leaders who are behind the Virtuous Radical companies;
  • The four actions that leaders can practice to cultivate the Virtuous Radical belief system amongst their employees.

Why is this important?

  • Companies want to ensure that their precious investments are, in fact, positively impacting the intended beneficiaries.
  • The ‘millennial’ population, soon to comprise 75% of the workforce, wants to know how they can make a difference at work and the results suggest some ways to do this.
  • To transform companies, leaders and employees for the future world of work, we need to understand what qualities are needed and what drives them.

Become part of the change

In order to learn about how the company’s leadership beliefs permeate through the company to impact employees, stakeholders, greater society and the environment, we invite you to participate in our 15-minute survey. Kindly click on the appropriate link below.

Survey for C-level executives

Survey for managers and employees

Participants will receive a summary of the first phase of the research immediately upon completion, and a summary of the survey results in a few months. Participation is voluntary and confidential. Your name, organisation and responses will be kept completely anonymous. Thank you in advance!