Leading the social enterprise: Reinvent with a human focus

Date: January 2020
Author: Sakolsri Satityathiwat
Senior Consultant | Clients & Industries
Deloitte Thailand

Evidence confirms not only the accelerating growth in the role of social enterprise but also supporting the social enterprises’ positive link to financial performance. Organizations leading the social enterprise are moving beyond mission statements to help bring meaning back to the workplace and human identity back to the worker, to reinvent our structures around creating a meaningful employee experience.

In the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, business leaders find themselves faced with challenges that include the relentless acceleration of cognitive technologies, the pressure to transform digitally, and new pressures to adapt to a far more diverse workforce. While these may seem like timeless human capital problems, today they are arising in a completely new context: the social enterprise - organizations whose mission combines revenue growth and profit making with the need to respect and support its environment and stakeholder network. In terms of business implications, this means to include listening to, investing in, and actively managing the trends that are shaping today’s world while shoulders its responsibility to be a good citizen, serving as a role model for its peers and promoting a high degree of collaboration at every level of the organization. 

This year, the spotlight is on issues such as income inequality, wages, and role of businesses in society. The tensions underlying the social enterprise are being reflected in labor, regulatory, and community concerns around the world. The report shows eighty-five percent of employees around the world are disengaged from their jobs with the number one reason: “inability to learn and grow.” Organizations need to rethink the appropriate way to manage the workforce and redesign jobs as automation becomes more prevalent in the workplace. Organizations are being forced to move beyond mission statements and philanthropy to learn to lead the social enterprise and reinvent themselves around a human focus.

While CEOs have recognized the issue as stated in the report that the most important KPIs for them in 2019 was “impact on society, including income inequality, diversity, and the environment,” they have not solved for it. That is because leading a social enterprise is not just practicing corporate social responsibility, nor engaging in social impact programs. It is about recognizing that, while businesses must generate a profit and deliver a return to shareholders, they must do so while also improving the lot of workers, customers, and the communities.  In order to help guide them through the reinvention, we posit a set of human principles for the social enterprise (figure 1). These five principles frame the “human focus” for the social enterprise and serve as benchmarks to measure action or business decision that could affect people.

Figure 1: Human principles for the social enterprise:

Benchmarks for reinvention While the five design principles for the social enterprise give us the why for reinvention, the report also offers 10 human capital trends to help CEOs and organizations making a meaningful impact which can be categorize into 3 focus areas.


Figure 2: 10 human capital trends

Regardless of the path taken, the aim should remain constant: a renewed human focus in a world where profits meet purpose, talent trumps technology, and the social enterprise reigns supreme. Looking ahead, Organizations have an opportunity to refresh and expand the concept of “employee experience” to address the “human experience” at work; building on an understanding of worker aspirations to connect work back to the impact it will have on helping people achieve their aspirations. To know more, access the report “2019 Global Human Capital Trends” report titled “Leading the social enterprise: Reinvent with a human focus” on the Deloitte website.


Deloitte, Leading the social enterprise: Reinvent with a human focus, 2019
Deloitte Global Human Capital, Deloitte Insights, 2019.

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