Profit AND Purpose -- Lessons from the Goldman Sachs resignation letter

Mar 16, 2012

This week’s dramatic “I quit” op-ed from one of Goldman Sachs top executives should get us all thinking about how profit and employee power can work together.

Thanks to an ever-more-networked workforce, independent workers and traditional employees are seen less and less as cogs in giant profit-making machines. They have voices and goals and expectations.

What they want from work is not just money -- they want to contribute to a better society. And thanks to social media, especially, the big-time economic actors have to listen -- or get left behind.

There’s no doubt that profit can play a role in ensuring efficiency and scale – that’s why Freelancers Union runs its own social-purpose health insurance company.

But profit is not – and cannot be – the only driver of new ideas. In this new DIY Economy, successful for-profit start-ups like Etsy, G Diapers, and have, at heart, a mission beyond profit.

Social-purpose businesses that balance profit with social good are gaining more and more market-share. More than 500 corporations representing nearly $3 billion in revenue have already voluntarily held themselves to high standards of social-purpose and accountability by registering as B Corporations.

Tomorrow's economy will be built on a foundation of trust and community among workers and between workers and entrepreneurs. Profit, yes...but purpose first.

(Want to keep the conversation going? Follow me on Twitter at @Sara_Horowitz. Also, check out the post on The Hired Guns about this. Interesting.)

Sara Horowitz

As the founder of Freelancers Union, Sara has been a voice for freelancers for over two decades.