Social Enterprise: What’s love got to do with it?

At Intentionality we’re interested in what makes the biggest, positive difference to the well-being of individuals and communities.  And at the moment we’re pondering on what love has to do with it. We’ve suspected for a while that social enterprises and love are entwined in some way.

So we decided to commission a social enterprise thinker, blogger and researcher, David Floyd from Social Spider CIC, to explore the role of love in social enterprises – as the glue that holds together friendships, relationships, social circles and communities together, which themselves contribute significantly to well-being. We’d love to hear what you think.

A few of our thoughts that have lead us to this point

Umair Haque sums up the findings of research into what makes people happiest: ‘…we’re happiest when we’re relaxing, socialising, or – you guessed it – having sex.  The three most unhappy activities…?  The commute to work, time at work, and the commute back from work.  Who are the people we are most – and least – happy interacting with?  Friends and family make us happiest.  Clients and customers make us the third most unhappy.  Being alone makes us the second most unhappy.  What’s at the very, very bottom of the list? Even worse than being alone?  Having to interact with your boss.’[1]

This is sobering stuff for those of us who have the privilege and responsibility of being a boss and a reminder that the work environments we create have the power to increase – or significantly decrease – the well-being of our employees.  We should reflect on the effect our organsational cultures and environments have on beneficiaries, volunteers and other stakeholders as well.

To reinforce the point that relationships really matter to well-being, we can turn to Barry Schwartz, who summarises:  “what seems to be the most important factor in providing happiness is close social relations.  People who are married, who have good friends, and who are close to their families are happier than those who are not…Being connected to others seems to be much more important to subjective well-being than being rich.”[2]

In a world in which even the Co-operative Bank appears to think that the most important thing for its senior employees is to be paid vast sums of money[3], it is time to think again about the priorities and people we put at the heart of our enterprises and institutions.  What would an institution or enterprise built around love look like?  What would it feel like?  What impact would it have?

If you’d like to participate in the project and have a few minutes to spare, please visit our survey to let us know about the role of love in your social enterprise.  To do so, click here: http://svy.mk/1kb4Un9

To find out more, please get in touch by emailing info@intentionality.co.uk. We will also be sharing updates and findings on the Intentionality website in the next few months.


[1] U. Haque (2011) The New Capitalist Manifesto, Havard Business Review Press, p.142

[2] B. Schwartz. (2004) The Paradox of Choice: Why more is less New York: Harper Collins, p. 107.

[3] ‘Co-op Group to boost executive pay and bonuses’ (9th March 2014), BBC News, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26502675