Business as usual redefined? The social role of business and the challenge from Millennials

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A new report, (Redefining) Success in a Changing World, commissioned by Chivas Regal to explore the area of social entrepreneurism, is authored by Soushiant Zanganehpour a Consultant at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School, Oxford.

The report examines the views of millennials on the social role and responsibilities of business, offers opportunities and challenges to major global brands, and captures the growing significance of social entrepreneurship internationally. Drawing on the responses of more than 2000 young professionals (YPs), 40 business leaders and 500 social entrepreneurs in US, UK, Mexico, Brazil, China and South Africa, the report casts light on how global trends are influencing the values of tomorrow’s leaders, showing how they define success in their professional careers, and their views of the potential of social entrepreneurship to offer new business models which combine profit with positive social impact.

Millennials on the social responsibilities of business

Highlighting concerns that government is increasingly unable to solve social problems and ensure equitable distribution of resources and wealth, the research indicates that many feel the responsibility lies with big businesses to do more to impact social change.

  •     87% of YPs in all markets surveyed want large brands to assume greater responsibility in solving today’s economic and environmental challenges (76% UK, 72% USA, 92% China, 84% South Africa, 90% Mexico)
  •     Most respondents say business should be measured by more than just financial performance, to include positive and negative social and environmental impacts (82% UK, 83% USA, 94% China, 90% South Africa, 94% Mexico)
  •     Overall 91% believe that business can be a force for good if conducted in the right way (88% UK, 92% USA, 93% Brazil, Mexico and China, 89% South Africa).
  •     81% of YPs believe that large businesses should put as much effort and resource into creating a positive social impact as they do in creating profit for shareholders. These results echo other studies showing a strong values shift among this generation globally.

‘As millennials assume stronger positions as leaders and consumers, we can expect their views to more strongly influence global markets. Their mind set may fuel a rapid transformation of social entrepreneurs from a relatively narrow group of innovators to the way that “business is done” much more broadly. The implications of this, for large businesses and brands will vary; some may see it as a threat, while others will see this as an opportunity to reinvent themselves — to redefine purpose, responsibility and expectations in order to build loyalty with a new emerging consumer demographic’ says Zanganehpour.

The ‘fight for talent’ among Millennials

Described in the report as ‘more civically inclined, more collaborative and more idealistic than their predecessors’, millennials are challenging business leaders to offer them more meaning in their jobs.

  •     87% of young professionals say they are motivated to work for companies that create some kind of positive social impact, rather than those focused solely on turning a profit.
  •     The majority of YPs in emerging markets would accept a lower salary to pursue a job with positive social, environmental or community impact (83% China, 70% Mexico), whereas only a minority of YPs in developed markets stated they would accept such a tradeoff (28% UK, 31% USA).

Zanganehpour believes that by making a public commitment, communicating and embedding these values into their businesses, large organisations will ultimately attract the best talent to their workforces. ‘If brands and businesses want to attract top talent, they’ll need to do more than simply provide a pay cheque. There’s a very real demand for change and for larger, more traditional organisations to bring smaller social enterprises and start-ups into their supply chains, as well as giving their employees opportunities to create shared value in society’ said Zanganehpour.

The growing importance of social entrepreneurship and social ventures

‘The survey indicates that in the future we should expect the fundamental values of social entrepreneurship to become incorporated into mainstream business practice due to the pressure from both staff and consumers. Our findings suggest that consumers are more “conscious” than ever before and are demanding products that reflect their values, making social business increasingly more viable that the status quo’ said Zanganehpour.

The report, however, does highlight ongoing barriers social entrepreneurs typically face. 32% of social entrepreneurs surveyed cited a lack of funding as a major obstacle to growth. This was supported by the feedback of the YPs surveyed, 68% of whom mentioned lack of finance, 44% citing lack of business advice and 42% raising concerns that small social ventures will not generate enough profit to be sustainable. The YPs also highlighted the lack of public awareness of social ventures and suggested that the internet can play a growing role in building consumer awareness and support.

‘Not all millennials want to be entrepreneurs, social or otherwise’ said Zanganehpour, ‘But the values of social entrepreneurship appeal to this generation like none before and it’s safe to say that millennials will continue to have a profound impact on how all businesses engage with the world. This is a truly global generation, with a remarkably consistent set of values, expectations and motives. “Business as usual” is being redefined, and companies that understand and embrace this mind set have much to gain in the
battle for talent, market share and investment as this cohort matures and flexes its collective muscle.’

To read the full report visit

For further information, or to speak with Soushiant Zanganehpour, please contact the press office:

Jonaid Jilani, Press Officer, Saïd Business School
Tel: +44 (0)1865 614 678
Email: Jonaid(dot)jilani(at)sbs(dot)ox(dot)ac(dot)uk

Kate Richards, Saïd Business School
Tel: T +44 (0)1865 288879 M +44 (0)7711000521
Email: kate(dot)richards(at)sbs(dot)ox(dot)ac(dot)uk

Notes to editors

1. About the report and link to The Venture

The report, (Redefining) Success in a Changing World charts the rise of social entrepreneurship and the extent to which it is becoming mainstream around the world, looking in depth at six developed and emerging economies and highlights the continuing hurdles facing social ventures. It examines the relationship of Millennials and young professionals with the social entrepreneurship business model and their values and views relating to business solutions to social and environmental problems. Finally it discusses ways in which businesses can partner with social ventures to accelerate impact.

The report is based on a survey of more than 2200 young professionals and social entrepreneurs in Mexico, Brazil, China, UK, USA and South Africa and 48 qualitative interviews with leading global social entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, business leaders and other practitioners, supported by secondary desk top research.

The report was authored by Soushiant Zanganehpour and edited by David Gallagher of Ketchum International. It was commissioned by Chivas Regal.

To support the findings from the study, Chivas Regal has established ‘The Venture’ - an international fund which provides aspiring social entrepreneurs with $1 million of financial assistance, global exposure for their company or idea and support from business mentors. Up to 20 of the most exciting new social entrepreneurs from different countries will be invited to a week-long, entrepreneur’s training-camp in Silicon Valley, California in July 2015.

2. About Soushiant Zanganehpour

Soushiant Zanganehpour is a Consultant at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Saïd Business School. He was formerly the Strategy and Operations Manager of the Skoll Centre until January 2014. He conducted this assignment in a personal capacity outside of his responsibilities at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Said Business School.

3. About the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship is a leading academic entity for the advancement of social entrepreneurship worldwide. Opened in 2003, the Centre fosters entrepreneurial approaches for social and environmental impact by developing talent, advancing research and creating a collaborative hub for idea and experience exchange. See

4. About Saïd Business School

Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford blends the best of new and old. We are a vibrant and innovative business school, but yet deeply embedded in an 800 year old world-class university. We create programmes and ideas that have global impact. We educate people for successful business careers, and as a community seek to tackle world-scale problems. We deliver cutting-edge programmes and ground-breaking research that transform individuals, organisations, business practice, and society. We seek to be a world-class business school community, embedded in a world-class University, tackling world-scale problems.

In the Financial Times European Business School ranking (Dec 2013) Saïd is ranked 12th. It is ranked 14th worldwide in the FT’s combined ranking of Executive Education programmes (May 2014) and 23rd in the world in the FT ranking of MBA programmes (Jan 2014). The MBA is ranked 5th in Businessweek’s full time MBA ranking outside the USA (Nov 2012) and is ranked 5th among the top non-US Business Schools by Forbes magazine (Sep 2013). The Executive MBA is ranked 23rd worldwide in the FT’s ranking of EMBAs (Oct 2013). The Oxford MSc in Financial Economics is ranked 7th in the world in the FT ranking of Masters in Finance programmes (Jun 2014). In the UK university league tables it is ranked first of all UK universities for undergraduate business and management in The Guardian (Jun 2013) and has ranked first in ten of the last eleven years in The Times (Sept 2014). For more information, see

5. About Chivas Regal

Chivas Regal is a truly global brand, selling 4.6 million 9L cases annually in more than 150 countries across Europe, Asia Pacific and Americas. The Chivas Regal range is the epitome of style, substance and exclusivity and includes Chivas Regal 12, 18 and 25 Year Old.


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Kate Richards
University of Oxford
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