The business ecosystem is changing and is beginning to focus on an alternative economy. The mission of companies is no longer limited to maximizing their profits, but now new values are beginning to prevail focused on building a more equitable, more inclusive and more sustainable economy for the planet… and for people.
In this sense, companies from all over the world have embarked on a demanding path: to be better companies for the planet by integrating the concept of impact and social benefit into their daily management. The pioneer of this necessary corporate ethical evolution is the B movement, formed by more than 2,500 companies and grouped in the B Corp certification, to which PICVISA aspires and which evaluates the ethics and sustainability of a company, becoming the best guarantee of this evolution. A moral and vital evolution for our planet.
In this sense, some entrepreneurs who are part of this pioneering movement have chosen to rethink the notion of economic success to include collective or social benefits. New benefits that must rediscover their place in the heart of the company of the XXI century. The B Corp movement has become a global benchmark for generating new models of transformative companies. More than 80% of Spanish B-Corp companies have a profile of start-ups and SMEs. They are companies with a marked vocation for impact.
What do the companies that obtain this certificate earn? The contribution of the B Corp certification to a company cannot be qualified as material despite the commitment that is requested, but it has many advantages:
- Differentiation and leadership through social and environmental commitment
- Excellence for the improvement of business management
- Membership in a community of leaders in sustainability
- Attraction of talent, investors and capital
- Benchmarking with related companies based on reliable information
- Visibility and dissemination in the media
ECONOMIC PARADIGM SHIFT
This certification, similar to those of fair trade or organic farming, analyzes the standards of performance, transparency and responsibility of companies and is the best guarantee of business evolution, leaving behind economic expansion at any price. The social, political and economic crisis generated by the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine demonstrates the need for this evolution. It is essential to rethink how we live and work to respond to a new reality, marked by global and local challenges, such as the climate emergency or social inequalities.
A new economic paradigm, in short, that reduces inequality and poverty and creates quality jobs for a future that will be digital and technological, and in which innovation will condition all aspects of our daily lives, including employment. Thus, technology is called to facilitate our day to day and to make our work more productive and effective. But also to decisively influence the workplace. That is why there are those who see in the automation and robotization that new technologies drive, a threat to the maintenance of current levels of employment.
A concern that is not new. During the nineteenth century the Luddist movement emerged, in which workers destroyed machines convinced that they put their jobs at risk. Over time, their mistake was proven and that technology produced more work and more profitable. Something similar could happen again. According to the flexibility at Work, embracing change (Randstad) report, production automation could cause one in seven workers to lose their current job globally. In Spain, 52% of jobs are at risk of being automated, partially or totally, this decade.
This increasing automation opens the door to new challenges. One of them is to compensate for the inevitable loss of jobs and, consequently, of their contributions and tax. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, advocates, for example, to force robots to pay taxes similar to those paid by the humans they will replace and, in this way, make the public welfare system sustainable. The same proposal that, for years, the American economist Jeremy Rikfin has defended.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is committed to the creation of a universal basic income to face the new economic paradigm that automation will bring. Musk prophesies that thanks to automation and technological advances, there will be an overabundance of products and services and that almost everything will be very cheap. There will also be jobs in which robots will definitely replace humans. And this is where the big challenges lie: Will the recipients of universal basic income continue to find meaning in life without developing any professional activity? How would this universal basic income be financed? Specialists close the circle and want robot taxes to do it.
THE ADVANTAGES OF AUTOMATION
If we return from the future to the present, we have to emphasize that with robotic process automation, encouraged by artificial intelligence, it is possible that manual, repetitive and frequent tasks are done in a faster, constant and error-free way, improving the levels of quality and productivity. Automation also frees employees from these repetitive tasks with little strategic value, allowing them to focus on more strategic tasks. Robots, for example, don’t work alone, even in the best sci-fi environment. They always need people.
This is the case, for example, of ECOPICK, a robot based on artificial intelligence, designed by PICVISA, which recognizes and classifies a wide variety of objects on a conveyor belt, replacing the tasks usually performed by a sorter in the waste recycling process. Artificial intelligence makes it possible to recycle more and better. Thus, the implementation of ECOPICK in recycling plants allows the automation of the waste treatment procedure without requiring human intervention, and frees workers from routine and dangerous tasks.
MORE TECHNOLOGICAL JOBS
The technologization of the work environment has numerous advantages, but also some disadvantages. Among the advantages, the elimination of barriers such as distance thanks, for example, to remote working, making it possible for companies to compete globally. It has also increased efficiency and productivity, the emergence of more transdisciplinary professions and more options for attracting talent. Among the drawbacks, jobs with great dependence on the proper functioning of these technologies, and the need for strong previous investments and specialized talent.
The world of employment evolves almost at the same speed as technology that, in recent decades, has revolutionized the world of work completely, giving rise to the emergence of new forms of work, management and organization. The present and future of employment cannot be conceived without the influence of technology, which will now lead to the emergence of three new types of work: frontier (new technological fields), wealth (jobs created thanks to increased productivity), and last-mile (jobs that cannot yet be automated). In this context, companies like PICVISA are obliged to look for answers that necessarily involve redefining the concept of business success, focusing it towards a more inclusive, ecological economy, and long-term value generation. We have to be able to respond to current social and environmental challenges through business solutions. Only in this way, we will be able to move towards a new era marked by sustainable development, and attract and retain the talent of our employees.